AN army of walkers is set to take to the road in support of a battle-scarred regiment.
A 50-strong team will attempt a 40-mile trek from The Eastenders pub, in Sunderland, to Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, to help raise funds for The Rifles’ official charity.
Since 2007, it has suffered more casualties than any other regiment, with 54 killed in action and 290 seriously wounded, mostly by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
Peter Callaghan, 55, who is organising the event in aid of the Care For Casualties Appeal, said: “We have walkers, men and women, from across Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“We will be setting off at midnight, walking through the night and day, and we expect to reach our destination by the following morning.”
He added: “We intend to arrive at Vimmy Barracks in time for The Rifles’ pass-off parade.”
Last year, The 3 Rifles marched through Sunderland before being given Freedom of the City status.
The regiment, which includes the former Durham Light Infantry, recruits heavily from across the North East.
Businessman Peter, whose 23-year-old son Michael is a lance corporal in The Rifles, said: “Our riflemen have risked their lives on our behalf.
“We need to do everything we can to support them and to show our appreciation for their sacrifices.
“The charity looks after the welfare of soldiers from the regiment who have been injured in conflicts, providing essential back-up support, such as house or vehicle modifications and respite care.
“Last year, we raised £10,700 when 12 of us walked from South Shields to Edinburgh. We would hope to better that this year.”
Janice Murray, mother of Private Michael Tench, who was 18 when he was killed in Iraq, is also taking part in the walk.
Michael, a former Red House School pupil, died when a roadside bomb hit his Warrior patrol vehicle in Basra in 2007.
Janice, 47, from Carley Hill, has already taken part in a series of military fund-raisers.
Despite preparations being well under way, the organisers are still appealing for help and support to complete the feat.
“It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, with so many people taking part,” said ex-Para Peter.
“We all need transport home after the event, which I have managed to sort out with the help of the kindness of local companies.
“Everyone taking part has bought their own special hoodie and T-shirt, but we could certainly still do with a little help with bottled water and snacks. We also need fuel for the two support vehicles.”
For more information about the walk, which will take place on July 21, or to make a donation, visit www.careforcasualties.org.uk or call 0796 787 1504.