Sutton airman ready for mammoth Help for Heroes challenge

Senior Aircraft Technician David Saint, of 31 Squadron Tornados, who is taking part in a challenge to raise �31,000 for Help for Heroes.

Senior Aircraft Technician David Saint, of 31 Squadron Tornados, who is taking part in a challenge to raise �31,000 for Help for Heroes.

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A SUTTON-born airman and his squadron are hoping to raise £31,000 for Help for Heroes by running, cycling and rowing a total distance of 31,000 miles - while on tour in Afghanistan.

Senior Aircraft Technician David Saint and his colleagues in 31 Squadron of the Royal Air Force are taking on the record-breaking challenge to do their bit for Help for Heroes and other charities that help the country’s armed forces personnel.

The previous record set by any squadron is 24,000 miles, but 31 Squadron - which is a Tornado strike and reconnaissance squadron comprising ground engineers, air crew and operational intelligence staff, and has about 50 members - are planning on overtaking this while on an extended four-month long tour in Kandahar province.

Said David (24), who went to Ashfield Comprehensive School and now lives in Mansfield when not at the squadron’s base in Marham, Norfolk: “The challenge we have set ourselves is to collectively cover 31,000 miles to raise £31,000.

“To do this, each and everyone one of us involved will, for the entire duration of our tour, have to complete 5.2 miles every single day - either by running, rowing or cycling.

“That would not normally be too difficult for any fit person, but when you combine that with the pressures of being in a wartime environment, working 12 hour shifts with only one day off every 21, in heats in excess of 42 degrees celsius, the scale of our task becomes all the more daunting.

“But we are all entering this challenge in high spirits in the thought that it will not only take our minds off missing our friends and loved ones, but also that we will be helping raise money for a very worthy cause.”

The Squadron was the first Tornado squadron to undertake combat operations in Afghanistan in 2009 and has been tasked to return this month, flying out last weekend.

The four-month long tour is the first Tornado squadron tour of this length in Afghanistan and the airmen will be dedicating what little spare time they have to taking part in the charity challenge.

David said: “For the majority of us this is our first time being involved in a Help for Heroes campaign like this. However, we all take great interest in the charity and how it is helping our wounded servicemen and women.

“I think the work they have done so far is amazing, not only for the wounded personnel themselves but also for the forces in general.

“I am proud to walk down the street wearing my wristband and, from what I can see, so many many others are too.

“I feel that they have brought a more positive light to British forces and made it more acceptable for people to openly show their support.”

Anybody who wants to sponsor David and the 31 Squadron can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/dave-saint, or by texting the code SYXN81, plus the amount you wish to donate, to 70070.

Any businesses wanting to offer support can email David at sainty91@hotmail.com.