A SOLDIER is swapping the deserts of Iraq for a charity bike ride across Britain.
Neil Buckley, of Ellesmere Port, has jumped on a 10-year-old exercise bike to prepare for the mammoth trek from Land’s End to John O’Groats next June.
He won’t be alone in this challenge, although training is proving a bit difficult since his two team-mates are presently in Afghanistan.
Neil, a corporal in 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (formerly the Cheshires), has had to fit training around his demanding job.
He will be kept busy in Iraq for the next six months as a team commander within a platoon of 30 lads from Cheshire. Their responsibilities include conducting patrols to the south of Basra and helping to maintain security.
Former Stanney High pupil Neil’s training takes place in his rest periods after returning from patrols. It involves setting the one exercise bike in the on-site gym to its highest resistance and cycling the equivalent of 60-70 miles in two hours every day.
Neil and his team-mates, Russ and Carl Oldfield from Whitby in Ellesmere Port – both in the Royal Engineers – are riding in memory of Emily Rose Loughrey.
Emily, from Kent, died on June 12 this year, aged 22, after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
During the ride, Neil and his team- mates – who have surpassed their initial target of raising £10,000 for the CLIC Sargent charity – will arrive in Ellesmere Port on June 6. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/mattloughrey