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RAF Honington near Bury St Edmunds team conquer Ben Nevis carrying whisky barrel in aid of RAF Benevolent Fund



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A team from a Suffolk military base have scaled the UK's highest peak – while carrying a 52kg whisky barrel.

Four climbers, from RAF Honington near Bury St Edmunds, conquered Ben Nevis with the barrel to raise £1,800 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The fund-raising idea came to Flt Lt Stuart Clark a few years ago and had to be put off due to the pandemic but it was finally realised at the start of June when the team, who are all members of the RAF Regiment, was able to travel freely to Scotland.

They climbed Ben Nevis carrying a 52kg whisky barrel
They climbed Ben Nevis carrying a 52kg whisky barrel

They summited the 4,413ft peak in eight hours and 40 mins while carrying the barrel.

The team featured Stuart as well as Flt Lts Campbell Steel and Robert ‘Bobby’ Holmes, both of Honington, and Sgt Michael ‘Smudge’ Smyth, of Mildenhall.

Stuart, of Stamford, said: “It seemed like something unique that hadn’t been done before and weird enough to be attention grabbing and challenging.

The fund-raiser had to be put off due to the pandemic
The fund-raiser had to be put off due to the pandemic

"How many people can say they carried a whisky barrel up the UK’s highest mountain?

"Judging by the looks on some people’s faces as we walked past it had the desired effect.

"This year was the first chance I had to do it, aiming for the time of year likely to give the best weather and longest periods of daylight.

“It went much better than I’d ever expected. I honestly expected to be up there in the dark, 12 hours after we’d started, hating each other and debating about pushing the barrel of a cliff.

The team from RAF Honington raised £1,800 for the RAF Benevolent Fund
The team from RAF Honington raised £1,800 for the RAF Benevolent Fund
They summited the 4,413ft peak in eight hours and 40 minutes
They summited the 4,413ft peak in eight hours and 40 minutes

"But, in the end we smashed it, getting up and down in a time some people would struggle to manage without the barrel. The weather was fantastic and the looks of disbelief were worth it."

He added: “I’ve seen the good that the RAF Benevolent Fund does and having observed one of the funding boards where they were judging cases and requests for support, I was impressed by the breadth of people the RAFBF helps.

"I think the scope of its work is admirable and I’d like to think that should I ever need to call on the fund for help I’ll have offered it some support before I needed its help."