A SOUTH Tyneside rugby player is tackling a year-long charity challenge in a bid to ensure soldiers are given vital support after leaving the military.
Haydn Richards, 28, kicked off the fundraising feat – called 12 in 12 – in aid of forces charity Hire A Hero, by completing the Great North Run on Sunday alongside his girlfriend, Ashton Bailey, and pal David McKenzie.
So it’s one down and 11 to go – with other feats including an ambitious mission to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in just 12 hours, a coast-to-coast bike ride, kayaking the River Tyne, and an energy-sapping finale scaling the heights of the world’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea.
The dozen daunting challenges will be completed in just 12 months, with people being urged to enlist in at least one event.
The epic effort will be led by the Hire A Hero Gorillas, a rugby team who supports the charity and play games home and abroad to raise cash and awareness for the cause.
Mr Richards, from Simonside, South Shields, a member of Westoe Rugby Club, also turns out for the Gorillas after finding out about the team from club colleague Des White, who is their director. Hire A Hero (HAH) is a new forces charity set up to help leavers past, present and future settle in civilian life.
Forces families will be assisted with employment, training, housing and care plans.
While not a former soldier himself, Mr Richards is keen to support those who have put their lives on the line for their country and help them settle back to home life once they pack away their uniforms for the last time.
Mr Richards said: “I heard about a similar challenge, but those taking part had to give up about halfway through. I said to myself I’d like to do something similar, but wouldn’t give up.
“I will take part in all 12 challenges and many of the Gorillas will be involved, but the public are also encouraged to take part.
“Hire A Hero is a great charity, but is under the radar at the moment, and hopefully this challenge will help to raise its profile.
Mr Richards wants to raise more than £5,000.
The next challenge for the 12 in 12 team is Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course at Cholmondeley Estate, Cheshire
Anyone keen to get involved, can contact Mr Richards on firstname.lastname@example.org
For details on the 12 in 12, visit www.hireaherouk.org/hire-hero-gorillas-12-12-fundraising-challenge