RAF sergeant from Hartlepool completes epic charity trek from Belgium to France

Sgt Steven Hollis and WO 2 Adrian Elliott at Thiepval memorial on completion of the 75 mile march.
Sgt Steven Hollis and WO 2 Adrian Elliott at Thiepval memorial on completion of the 75 mile march.

A brave RAF sergeant has completed an epic trek from Belgium to France to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Sergeant Steven Hollis completed the 75-mile trek from the his headquarters in Belgium to the Thiepval memorial in France to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

RAF sergeant Steven Hollis on the trek.

RAF sergeant Steven Hollis on the trek.

Sgt Hollis, who is currently serving in the European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)in Mons, Belgium, was joined by WO2 Adrian Elliott, 2nd battalion of the Mercian regiment, from Bournemouth, to raise vital funds for the Legion.

The pair set off on the three-day trek from their headquarters on October 10, walking over 25 miles a day in order to reach the memorial on Wednesday in time for the battle’s commemorative service.

Sgt Hollis, 34, said it was a moving experience to take part in the ceremony where he laid a wreath and read the ‘Ode of Remembrance.’

“Over the three days there were lots of ups and downs but the morale was really good,” he said.

“We set off on Monday at 8am and got in about 5.30pm that evening covering total of 23 miles.

“We slept rough in a field that night and just ate our supplies throughout the trek. We got up again then at 5.30am on the Tuesday and walked around 27 miles getting back at 5.30pm that night where we had a few hours sleep before walking another 25 miles through the night in order to arrive at the Thiepval memorial in France in time for the ceremony.

“Four miles before we finished we were joined by the European Joint Support Unit for the final distance.”

The former English Martyrs pupil studied mechanical engineering and then construction and design before joining the RAF Regiment aged 18 in 2000.

On the trek, the pair were self sufficient in all but a safety vehicle driven by SsgtCraig Lees and a water supply.

They carried an excess of 50lb of equipment including rations and simulated ammunition and slept rough along the way.

Sgt Hollis added: “The trek went really well and the service was brilliant. I have been involved in ceremonies in the past, but to be part of this one was a proud moment.

“We have managed to raise £3,500 from the march for the Royal British Legion, surpassing our target.”

To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Steven-Hollis?utm_id=25