Soldier tackles African mountain challenge with wounded servicemen

Dorset Echo: Ben Hughes and Marc Roberts Ben Hughes and Marc Roberts

A WEYMOUTH soldier will face Mount Kilimanjaro with a team including a cancer survivor and two wounded servicemen.

Sergeant Ben Hughes decided to take on the challenge when the man who took him through his basic training was diagnosed with cancer.

Former company sergeant Major Marc Roberts is now part of the team after making a full recovery.

Team leader Ben, aged 37, who is serving with the Royal Engineers based in Wiltshire, is also the most capped Army Rugby player of all time.

His wife Michelle and their three children Joshua, aged 19, 12-year-old Charlotte and Luica, aged 11, all live in Weymouth.

Both of the wounded servicemen are currently undergoing rehabilitation.

Sergeant Hughes said: “When I found out Marc had gone through prostate cancer last year, I was so moved I decided to do something positive to raise money to help others.

“He took me under his wing when I joined the army. I last saw him about eight years ago and didn’t know he had cancer until I saw it on Facebook.

“I had just retired from rugby and had more time on my hands and reading about Marc was one of the things that inspired me to arrange the challenge.

“Scientists seem to be so close to beating many cancers and I wanted to do something positive.

He added: “The result is fourteen people from very different backgrounds taking on Kilimanjaro.”

The team, who set off on March 8, are covering their own expenses and hope to raise £100,000 for Cancer Research UK and the forces charity, Remount.

They also intend to film the climb to raise health awareness.

Major Roberts, who served in Iraq and Northern Ireland as well as travelling the world with the army, said: “I was very touched when Ben got in touch to say he was organising this fundraising challenge.

“I feel so lucky the cancer was found early and I am totally committed to raising money and awareness to help others, so I was up for it.”

The Mount Kilimanjaro challenge will officially launch at the Tower of London with former England rugby player and MasterChef winner Matt Dawson.

Follow their progress at facebook.com/expeditionuhuruendeavour or on Twitter @uhuruendeavour.

To donate go to virginmoneygiving.com and search for UhuruEndeavour.

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