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Ten soldiers from Colchester raise £6,500 for Ipswich Hospital by taking on the North Coast 500 tour of the Scottish Highlands





A squad of 10 soldiers raised £6,430 through a 500-mile tour of the Scottish Highlands to thank a hospital for the care a colleague's daughter received following a horse-riding accident.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, braved harsh conditions and cycled five days in early September to raise funds for Ipswich Hospital.

Taking on the North Coast 500 challenge, their tour took them from Inverness Castle to the tip of John o’Groats and back, and featured a staggering 10,363 ascent.

The team braved the North Coast 500 to thank Ipswich Hospital; pictured with staff and young patient Ethan Gaffer. Picture: Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity
The team braved the North Coast 500 to thank Ipswich Hospital; pictured with staff and young patient Ethan Gaffer. Picture: Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity

All the money raised will go towards The Children’s Appeal and will help fund the new £6.9m children’s ward, which is reportedly £43,000 short of its goal.

When finished, it will see the 24-bed inpatient ward refurbished and remodelled with a modern look.

The squad set up a JustGiving for the event, which is still active.

The North Coast 500 challenge was founded in 2015.

It takes visitors on a tour of towns and beauty spots, including Corrieshalloch Gorge National nature reserve, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn - Britain’s highest waterfall - and Ben Wyvis nature reserve and stretches the entire coastline of the Highlands.

Sergeant Brad Clements, one of the cyclists who helped to organise the ride, described the route as testing, and noted weather conditions made brought greater challenges.

He said: “The North Coast 500 is a really testing event – it’s one of the biggest British tourism attractions for cyclists, so everyone who is into camping and cycling knows about it."

“The Scottish weather was pretty horrendous. The first day was the best day, but after that there were times when we were pedalling against 25 mile per hour crosswinds.

“We wanted to raise funds for the unit to give something back after they cared for the daughter of one of our colleagues, and think it’s a really incredible cause.”

The Children’s Appeal has been approached for comment.