31 Squadron Go 31,000 Miles!

31 Squadron, the ‘Goldstars’, are now two thirds of the way through their detachment in Afghanistan. In addition to their squadron role which is to provide Close Air Support and reconnaissa‑nce to assist the ground forces, the squadron are pushing ahead with their challenge; running, rowing and riding 31,000 miles.

The determination of the Squadron to help their three chosen charities; Help for Heroes; Tickets for Troops and Epilepsy Action has already brought fantastic results. The Squadron have so far raised over £35,000 for the charities and covered over the 31,000 miles! Every member of the Squadron has embraced the challenge by both raising money and covering miles to support the cause.

To keep momentum going, and add further challenges (as if the main challenge wasn’t enough!) Flight Lieutenant Rutherford led a team of engineers including Corporal Matt McKenn, to organise the Kandahar Great North Run. This involved 45 members of the Squadron running the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run around the perimeter of the Air Base in blistering heat. To their credit, every participant completed the distance, which was covered by the national press, and were kindly awarded with Great North Run medals and T-Shirts by the organisers of the actual event in Newcastle. However, the star of the Squadron was SAC Lloyd Johnson who won the race in an incredible time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 3 seconds!

The Squadron are now and have set themselves one final challenge to finish the event as one. They are attempting to break the World Record time for completing the marathon, but as a squadron, with almost every squadron member running via relay some of the 26.2 miles. In writing this article Flight Lieutenant Rutherford would like to thank his colleagues for embracing the challenge as one, and surpassing with style the challenge set. Whilst all of the Squadron members have put in significant effort, worthy of special recognition are: SAC ‘Nelly’ Nellist who has covered thousands of miles on the rowing machine, and Flight Lieutenants Sasha Sheard, Al Stewart, Phil Gomm and Matt Barker, who have collectively raised over £10,000 between them. The final word goes to the boss of 31 Squadron, Wing Commander Jim Mulholland, who has regularly led his aircrew and engineers from the front, covering over 500 miles alone.

The squadron now aim to get the total raised as high as possible so that other charities may benefit. Anyone who feels that they would like to add their support to the challenge, can do so by texting GOLD62 and the amount to 70070, or by visiting www.justgiving.com/31Squadron.

To support Flt Lt Alex Stewart in his trans-Atlantic rowing challenge type in ‘faceboat’ to Google.

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