Legion set for 100-mile France trek... a mile for each year that's passed
Royal British Legion members and supporters are taking on a 100-mile march in five days this summer to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
The group from Dromore, Co Down, will be using the event not only to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Poppy Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Support, but also in commemoration of the thousands of lives lost during one of the most important battles of the First World War.
The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest of the conflict.
Fighting began on July 1, 1916 and lasted 141 days. In total, 60 nations from the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25km front. When the offensive finally came to a halt on November 18, 1916, the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed.
Dromore branch standard bearer Colin Ward who, along with branch chairman Adrian Hawthorne is heading up the group of walkers, is confident that their event will go to plan.
"We initially came up with the idea a couple of years ago - to march one mile for every year of the centenary, ending at the Ulster Tower in France. We will have five walkers and two support drivers; we have been training hard and making sure everything is in place down to the finest detail," he said.
The group will be leaving Northern Ireland on June 24, following a farewell parade and assembly at Dromore war memorial. Then, dressed in specially-commissioned replica WWI army uniforms, the marchers will make their way to London and onward to their start point at Boulogne Harbour. They plan on averaging 24 miles per day, reaching the Ulster Tower on June 30.
Donations can be made to the March to The Somme challenge event by visiting www.justgiving.com/MarchtotheSommePoppy