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Frontline personnel take on 3,863-mile Yompathon for mental health charities

Serving and veteran frontline personnel have started a gruelling six-week march across the UK to raise money for eight military and emergency service charities that look after the mental health of those in need. 

Seven men are taking on the staggering distance of 3,863 miles over a 40-day period and will start and end their challenge at Royal Navy Headquarters in Portsmouth – visiting more than 200 military and emergency service establishments on the way. 

The self-titled 'Yompathon' team – named after the military slang word 'yomp', which stands for your own marching pace – is comprised of men from all over the UK, who represent the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, police, ambulance and fire services. 

They are taking on the challenge to raise £800,000 to be shared between eight charities: SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, FirstLight Trust, All Call Signs, The Ambulance Staff Charity, Police Care UK, The Fire Fighters Charity and NHS Charities Together. 

Team Leader Able Seaman James Mazzoni-Dalton will be joined by Senior Aircraftman Michael Perera of the Royal Air Force, Carl Coleman, PC Adam Benfield of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Dan Cairns, formerly of the Essex Rescue & Fire Service, now Royal Navy, and Damon Godfrey of the South Western Ambulance Service. 

The yomping team will be supported by John Dawkins of the MOD Guard Service, Sue Clark, Mark Francis, a health and safety event officer, Gary Burns and Allan Farmer, both logistics experts, plus John Hobson, Anthony Hornibrook and Keith Pinwell, who will act as drivers. 

Yompathon serving and veteran front-line personnel charity yomp CREDIT BF
The team will march for 24 hours each day, through three countries, 14 national parks and 40 counties across the UK.

The Yompathon won't be a casual walk across a park on a sunny day. 

The team will march for 24 hours each day, through three countries, 14 national parks and 40 counties across the United Kingdom. 

Every day they will cover a minimum of 96.5 miles and are aiming to maintain an average pace of 15 minutes per mile. 

Each member of the team will complete eight miles while carrying a 25kg Bergen before handing it over to a fellow yomper in a relay style. 

Over the course of the Yompathon, each participant will need to consume about 7,350 calories a day to keep up their energy.

They will be prone to blisters, shin splints, bruised heels and missing toenails, but AB Mazzoni-Dalton, the man behind the epic challenge, is convinced it will all be worthwhile. 

He said: "I came up with the idea of the Yompathon because I feel so strongly about wanting to help both former and serving members of the Armed Forces and emergency services suffering from mental health challenges. 

"The charities I've chosen to support are close to my heart. 

"I have been in the British Armed Forces since 1998 and I'm currently serving with the Royal Navy as a Medical Assistant."

He went on: "I cannot wait to embark on this challenge, while losing a few toenails along the way, for such a worthwhile cause."

If you want to donate, visit the Yompathon’s JustGiving page.