An army veteran formerly of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment is undergoing a virtual rowing challenge in his back garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mark Harding defied medical expectations to learn to walk again, having served with the first battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment for 16 years until 2010, when he was shot in the neck while serving in Afghanistan and paralysed from the neck down.
His extraordinary recovery included two-and-a-half-years spent at the Defence Rehabilitation Medical Centre, Headley Court near Surrey, with continuous support from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity throughout his journey.
Thanks to The Soldiers’ Charity’s support, Mark has been able to take up kayaking and dragon boating, and in return he has completed several fundraising challenges on the charity’s behalf.
He has climbed Skiddaw Mountain in the Lake District, raising £6,000, and undertaken a range of extreme challenge events around the UK as part of his ‘Challenge Mark’ series for the benefit of The Soldiers’ Charity.
Mark has been involved with Preston North End Community and Education Trust previously, as The Soldiers’ Charity’s ambassador for the Armed Forces Covenant signing presentation, which took place ahead of last year’s home fixture against Blackburn Rovers – North End players wore official The Soldiers’ Charity warm-up t-shirts that day, too.
Less than a month later, he was joining another fundraising effort as he completed the Big PNE Sleep Out.
NHS Charities Together and The Soldiers’ Charity are the benefactors of his latest virtual fundraiser, which is seeing Mark row the equivalent distance from his hometown of Wigton, just outside the Lake District, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, US. Rowing an average of 65km per day, he has completed around 3,5000km of the total 4,968km distance thus far.
Ten years on from sustaining his own injury on the frontline, Mark is completing the virtual row as a show of support to the NHS and The Soldiers’ Charity to ‘do his bit’ in response to the current Coronavirus crisis.
A huge congratulations to Mark on his inspirational fundraising idea following his astonishing recovery, show your support for his efforts by visiting his fundraising page here.
The Soldiers’ Charity is the official national charity of The British Army which provides lifelong support to past and present soldiers and their families; for more information, visit their website here.
The Community and Education Trust also runs its own military veterans programme, PNE Forces, which under normal circustances operates with a weekly brunch club and football session, while during lockdown some participants have been recipients of our PNECET Helping Hampers.
While the return of the football season is drawing closer, we will continue to share stories of the fantastic work Preston North End fans are doing in the community where possible.
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