Sutton soldier on march to repay "outstanding" King's Mill staff
A soldier who hails from Sutton is to conduct a tactical advance into battle with a difference when he goes on the march this Saturday.
For Corporal Gary Cardwell will be helping friends, rather than confronting the enemy.
And those friends are staff at King’s Mill Hospital who gave his mum “outstanding” support and care during her final days before her death from lung cancer at the age of 56.
Gary, 34, is to go on a 50-mile sponsored walk around Aldershot, where he is based, carrying a military backpack weighing fully 50kg, which is the equivalent of 50 bags of sugar.
He is hoping to complete the self-named 50/50 Yomp well within 24 hours and raise at least £1,000 for the General Charitable Fund of Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, which runs King’s Mill.
"Sadly, my mother, Amanda Cardwell, was a patient in the end-of-life ward at the hospital in January last year,” said Gary, who has been in the Army for 12 years.
"The expertise, commitment and total dedication of the nurses and doctors made what was such a devastating time much more bearable to deal with.
"I was heartbroken when I was told mum had only two or three days left.
“But for the short time she had on the ward, the staff were outstanding. They were personable, respectful and empathetic.
"At times, myself, my sister Zowie and my brother Troy were helpless with our mother’s pain. But the staff were there to help make her life as painless as possible.
"The level of dedication they showed was unbelievable. If any of them ever asked me to do anything, I would do it without thinking.”
True to his word, Gary, who serves with 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, will set off on his yomp at 8 am on Saturday in memory of his mum, who was born and bred in Sutton
Every five miles, he will be posting live updates on his 50/50 Yomp Facebook page, and every ten miles, he will be re-weighing his kit “to make the challenge as transparent as possible”.
He will also be changing his socks and shirt every five miles to prevent conditions such as trench foot setting in.
With the help of friends Aaron Lowe and Steve Ilett, who will be providing water, food and support, he reckons he can complete the arduous trek within about 15 hours.
"My training programme, which was originally going to be for 12 to 16 weeks, had to be knocked down to six weeks because of other commitments,” said Gary.
"But this is not about the time it takes. It’s about raising money.
"It’s not about me either. It’s about raising money and giving back to a charity that gave us help and looked after us when we needed it most.
"I want to repay the ward that devoted such professionalism to a family in need.”
The hospital’s charitable fund helps to pay for improved facilities at King’s Mill, so that staff can deliver high-quality care, as well as emotional and practical support, to patients.
Gary has set up a JustGiving page to receive sponsorship donations. If you would like to support him on his 50/50 Yomp, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gary-cardwell