March For Honour Arrives In London
Triumphant but exhausted, members of the armed forces have finished their thousand-mile charity speed march across the country.
The 20 members of March for Honour, a fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, were applauded on the steps of London's Royal Albert Hall (Thurs Nov 11th).
It was here that their seven-day trek culminated, under a dark and drizzly November sky.
The marchers - five from each of the Royal Marines, Army, RAF and Navy - hope to have smashed their £1 million fundraising target, once all donations have been counted.
Lance Corporal Ram Patten, a Royal Marine who came up with the idea for the march, said the public had been behind him and his comrades every step of the way.
"I'm still in shock at the moment. It hasn't sunk in yet. I'm still trying to digest what's happened.
"We had an overwhelming amount of support from the general public. It surpassed my expectations throughout.''
L/Cpl Patten was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder on his return from Afghanistan in 2007 and wanted to thank the Legion for the financial help it had given him, he said.
Sergeant Leigh Hobson, captain of the RAF team on the march, said:
"It was very, very hard, the mileage, as much as you train and no matter how fit you are.
"But having lost comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's the least I can do.''
The marchers had taken with them a Book of Remembrance bearing the names of every member of the armed forces killed in action since the Second World War.
The book was given to them by Prince Harry in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, on Tuesday as he opened a Field of Remembrance not far from the airfield where the bodies of British troops killed in Afghanistan are repatriated.
Tonight, the marchers delivered the book to Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszley, national president of the Royal British Legion, at a reception at the Hall.
The tiring trek began on November 4 with each of the teams starting in different locations.
A group from the Royal Navy began at HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the Royal Marines started at Plymouth Hoe, the RAF set off from the war memorial in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and the Army marched from Cardiff Castle.
Each team member marched in full military uniform and carried packs weighing more than 40lb.
The different forces united at Wootton Bassett and marched through the Berkshire towns of Newbury and Windsor before reaching the capital.
The Royal British Legion's director of national events and fundraising, Russell Thompson, said:
"March For Honour encapsulates what we are all about.
"The funds raised from March For Honour and the 2010 Poppy Appeal will fund our vital welfare and rehabilitation work for the armed forces community.''