Challenge is in the bag at Fontwell Park

Action at Fontwell Park   Picture by Clive Bennett
Action at Fontwell Park Picture by Clive Bennett

Mascots from Southern Water and the Army will be pitted against each other tomorrow (July 18) when they take on the Army Powerbag Challenge at Fontwell Park to launch the Southern Water Armed Forces charity race day, which takes place on Saturday, October 4.

The challenge, an intense aerobic exercise race, sets the scene for Southern Water’s race day which will be attended by each of the three armed forces and will raise money for the disabled ex-servicemen and women of the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing.

Attending tomorrow will be former soldier Derek Derenalagi, who is British Paralympic discus thrower and QAHH ambassador. Derek was seriously injured in Helmand Province by an explosive device in 2007. He lost both legs in the blast but recovered and represented Great Britain in the 2012 Paralympics.

Derek, who is still a soldier and in training for the 2016 Paralympics, is guest speaker at the race day in October.

“It is humbling to be involved and I am looking forward to helping raise funds and awareness for QAHH. Residents at the Hospital Home have their goals and the nurses and therapists work so hard to help them achieve these,” he said.

“The blast was devastating for not only me but my family, too. It was a tough road to recovery, which had its ups and downs, but I look at the positives and thank God I managed to get through.

“My own personal experience demonstrates that having a physical disability does not mean you can’t have goals and in my role as ambassador to QAHH I’d like to show people that being physically disabled means you can still have a good quality of life.”

Chris Fletcher, senior press officer at HQ145 (South) Brigade, said: “This challenge looks deceptively easy! Three pairs of weighted bags are laid out approx 20ft apart behind an open backed vehicle.

“Each challenger races from the vehicle to the first pair of bags weighing 15kg each. They are picked up individually and carried back to the vehicle and thrown in the back. This is repeated for the second, third and final pair weighing 25kg and the race culminates with a sprint back to the finish line.

“So it’s really a series of relays over progressively longer distances carrying heavier weights. We look forward to seeing how the Southern Water mascot will fare!”

Kevin Buck, who organises Southern Water’s charity fundraising, said: “Taking on a challenge against the physical expertise of the Army over a 25m course is to be applauded! But it’s all in a very good cause and we’ll see if we can beat the fittest in the Army in this timed event.”

The Southern Water Armed Forces charity race day is set to be the biggest yet with a host of Armed Forces representatives in attendance, including the Military Wives Choir. Therew will be a Spitfire plane with a full military display, military vehicles, a military band, recruitment stands, promotional activities, children’s entertainment and much more.

Simon Williams, Fontwell Park’s executive director, said: “The team here are delighted to be working with Southern Water for their race day. Now in its eighth year, we would particularly like to welcome their chosen charity for this year’s October Festival, the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing.

“As one of our feature race days of the year and always a highlight in the social calendar, there will be plenty of activities on the day to help raise as much money for this great charity.”