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Leicestershire Couple Enlist For Charity In Challenge Reserved For Militarys Most Elite Force

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

It’s survival of the fittest as a Leicestershire couple are getting set to test their physical and mental endurance by taking part in an arduous 30 mile training exercise designed to test the military’s most elite force.

Melissa Hook, 37 and partner Mark Connolly, also 37, from Mountsorrel, will come face to face with one of the most difficult training terrains encountered by the Royal Marines when they take part in the 2013 Survive The Yomp challenge.

Part of the Commando Spirit Series of fundraising challenge events to raise £1M for The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, the training exercise is normally only experienced by Royal Marines Commandos, who face it as their final test before earning their presitigous green beret.

Melissa and Mark are just two of the band of brave participants from across the UK who will take part in the event in September. The couple are endeavouring to raise as much money as possible for the Commando Spirit Appeal.

Melissa said: “We are encouraging as many people as possible to sponsor us and get involved in the fundraising initiative. We want to raise as much money as we possibly can for the Commando Spirit Appeal.”

The Highlands of Scotland is the setting for this year’s Survive The Yomp and the 30 mile challenge will take place in and around Spean Bridge, home to the iconic Commando Memorial, and Achnacarry Castle. Participants will follow in the footsteps of thousands of Royal Marines who trained in the remote and unforgiving terrain to become “Commandos” and prepare for their pivotal roles in World War II; the area is not called “Commando Country” for nothing!

Survive The Yomp offers participants the chance to become part of Royal Marine history by taking on the ultimate challenge all Royal Marines must complete in order to gain their coveted green beret and facing the 30-miler over the original yomping ground of our Royal Marines Commandos.

Melissa said: “The Commando Spirit Appeal really struck a chord and when I heard about this challenge I thought now is the time for me to sign up and commit to take part. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will push me to the absolute limit but the thought of raising money for such a worthwhile cause will give me the willpower to get through.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of the Forces – my dad was in the Army, my sister was in the Catering Corps and my Auntie was in the Postal Corps so raising money for the Forces is definitely something I feel very strongly about.

“Mark and I have been training together a fair bit and we are gradually building ourselves up, doing more miles each time we go out. We haven’t done any walks across tough terrain yet though – that’s our next training challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to The Yomp – although I must admit I’m a bit scared of what it will bring, especially because it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this.

“I haven’t come across a charity challenge like this before so I’m also calling out to anyone in the local community to join me. If you want to create history and be part of this once in a lifetime experience, join me in “Commando Country” and we will get through it together!”  

Sally-Anne Hunter, Commando Spirit Series Founder and Director, said: “Melissa and Mark have made a big commitment and for that we are grateful and delighted to have them on board. Survive The Yomp should not be underestimated. This is one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges which is why it is the final test all Royal Marines Commandos face during their training.

“The area around Spean Bridge and Achnacarry Castle in the Highlands is steeped in Commando history, having been used as the original training ground for Royal Marines Commandos since 1942, so participants will get a real slice of the action and a feel for what it means to be part of the most elite force in the military.

“Melissa and Mark embody everything Commando Spirit stands for – their courage, grit and determination will see them through and the memories they will take from this event will last a lifetime. Everyone involved in the event will be willing them to succeed and we hope the people of Leicester back their campaign and support the Commando Spirit Appeal for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund at the same time.”

The Commando Spirit Series offers participants a rare insight into what it means to be a Royal Marines Commando today. Commando Spirit participants get the chance to test their courage and character against some of the most formidable aspects of Royal Marines training, be buddied up with a former or serving Royal Marine to guide them through their experience, be invited to Royal Marines events and help raise £1million for the RMCTF.

Major General Ed Davis, Commandant General of the Royal Marines said: “Survive The Yomp will be the next challenge in the Commando Spirit series of fundraising events on behalf of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

“I am delighted it will take place in iconic Commando Country and take us back to our old ‘yomping’ ground in and around Achnacarry and Spean Bridge, Scotland. I wish all participants the very best of luck, and extend my gratitude for their tremendous fundraising efforts.”

The RMCTF has as wide a set of purposes as any Service charity, working to support those wounded and injured, as well as those still serving, by funding decompression activities, homecoming events and memorials. It also provides through-life support to those who have left the Corps or dependents who have lost loved ones in service. Importantly, a significant grant is also made to the next of kin of all Royal Marines killed in service within 48 hours.

For more information on the Commando Spirit Appeal and Series or to take part in Survive The Yomp, please visit www.commandospirit.com.

To sponsor Melissa and Mark please visit –  www.justgiving.com/melissahook or www.justgiving.com/mark-connolly01




Issued by Beattie Communications (www.beattiegroup.com) on behalf of the Commando Spirit Appeal.


Commando Spirit

Commando Spirit is an Appeal on behalf of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund with a mission to raise £1m by 2014 for the charity. At the heart of the Appeal is the Commando Spirit Series of events, which offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for participants to show their courage and test their mettle against a substantial commando challenge, whilst gaining a rare insight into what it means to be a Royal Marine Commando and raising life changing sums for Royal Marines and their families in need.

The first event in the Series was Escape The Dunker which saw Commando Spirit participants take on the formidable underwater escape training or “Dunker” all Royal Marines have to face as part of their training. Take The Leap was the second event in the Commando Spirit Series and involved an eye-watering abseil from some of London’s most iconic locations including St Pancras Railway Station and Twickenham Stadium. Supported by our Royal Marines and led by HRH Prince Andrew, Commando Spirit participants also abseiled from Europe’s tallest building, the Shard.


The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund

The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund has probably the widest purposes of almost any Service charity – helping the wounded and injured; providing support for those still serving by funding decompression activities, homecoming events and memorials; providing through-life support to those who have left the Corps or have lost loved ones. Quite simply, the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund will help when others cannot.

Survive The Yomp

The third event in the Commando Spirit series of challenges, Survive The Yomp, will see a small band of brave participants take on the ultimate final test faced by every Royal Marine in order to complete their training – The 30 miler. The Yomp, an arduous 30 mile hike across tough terrain in the Scottish Highlands, emulates the final test faced by every Royal Marine recruit in order to be awarded the coveted green beret. Commando Spirit participants will be tested to the edge of their limitations as they take on this most arduous of challenges. The Yomp offers participants a unique opportunity to experience first hand the Commando qualities required of one of the world's most elite forces in the iconic and arduous terrain around Achnacarry and Spean Bridge - the original "Commando Country" where Commandos have trained since World War II.


Sally-Anne Hunter & Lifetime Challenge Events Ltd

Commando Spirit and the Commando Spirit Series are designed and delivered by Lifetime Challenge Events Ltd. The company is headed up by former barrister and event fundraiser Sally-Anne Hunter who sits on the RMCTF Campaign Board and is married to a former Royal Marine Major. A fellow of the RGS and Institute of Fundraising, she has created and delivered events that have raised over £15m for charity and was a founder member of the successful Booby Birds team of 20 women who skydived and between them raised £440K for breast cancer charities and last year, led by HRH Prince Andrew, was one of only four women to abseil the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, and in doing so raised over £500,000 for the Commando Spirit Appeal.