HMS Ocean petty officer takes on Plymouth to North East challenge in aid of ill children

Chris Orkney with his son Declan.
Chris Orkney with his son Declan.
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A Navy petty officer is taking on an 800-mile challenge to raise cash for sick youngsters.

Steve Groves is one of a team of four navy personnel who will make their way from Plymouth to Newcastle – using just their wits.

The four, who are all petty officers on board Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Ocean, set off today and have a week to make their way North, using just the clothes on their backs, one mobile phone and their Navy ID cards, in their By Any Means challenge.

The four have taken on the challenge to raise money for the Sick Children’s Trust, which provides accommodation for families at hospitals so they can be next to their very ill youngsters, and, CHUF, the Children’s Heart Unit Fund in Newcastle.

The officers, including 37-year-old Steve, a former Shotton Hall School pupil, who hails from Peterlee and is married with two children, are taking on the challenge as a thank you to the charity which supported one of the team, Petty Officer Chris Orkney and his wife, Nicola, when their three-year-old son, Declan, needed life-saving heart surgery at the Freeman Hospital.

Steve and Chris, along with their colleagues, Kieran Woodward and Jamie Marples, are hoping to raise £3,000 through their mammoth task.

Chris said: “Being told that the only way to save Declan’s life was for him to have major open heart surgery was horrendous, but immediately we felt supported by The Sick Children’s Trust and CHUF.”

Declan has made a full recovery and Chris said this is all thanks to the amazing team at Freeman Hospital.

To support the men in their challenge, visit