Cleared for take-off in Exmoor to help veterans

An arduous Exmoor race lies in the sights of a team from Lancaster later this month to raise money to help veterans struggling with issues such as debt, red tape, loneliness and homelessness.

Soldier 30:30 involves racing 30km or 30 miles carrying a 30lb pack. One of these teams is Team Flight, made up of supporters of FirstLight Trust, a charity which helps ex-service men and women of the military and emergency services. The team of Lancaster-based veterans include one Royal Engineer, one Royal Signaller, two veterans from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and one medic who served 22 years.

“We all met through the FirstLight Trust hub on Market Street in Lancaster. Improving our fitness levels to take on such a gruelling event has been a great way to boost morale and self-esteem,” explains team leader and hub support coordinator Gary Parish. “It’s been a while for some of the team since they’ve competed in this type of event. We are most looking forward to completing Soldier 30:30 and not getting lost!”

Their training has involved hill walking in Halton, Staveley and Pendle Hill with some sponsored runs thrown in for good measure. With 80% of the team playing for Burnley Veterans, Burnley F.C. In The Community offered weekly sessions focussing on core strength and cardio fitness. Another team member works for Lancashire Adult Learning which has led to a partnership with FirstLight Trust through the training.

“The Lancaster community has been so supportive already,” says Gary. “Strawberry Gardens Pub in Heysham hosted a Race Night for us. This raised nearly £700 thanks to their efforts and raffle prizes and race sponsorship by Phill Hayward, Design & Form Ltd, Ribbon & Rose, The Market Cobbler, R. Prestons Quality Butcher, Tony Smith, Joinery & Building, Town & Country Outside Events, Trevor and Maz Ford and Glyn and Lee Ord. We’d also like to thank personal trainer Naomi Green from Burnley F.C. Also Tilbeas Bistro in Burnley have looked after us very well when we needed to refuel after our workouts. We just hope to do everyone proud.”

Soldier 30:30 begins on 13 October. Donations to Team Flight can be made online at: or in person at the FirstLight Trust hub at 63-65 Market Street in Lancaster.