RAF men take 12-day challenge for charity

Oxford Mail: Flt Sgt Andy Gibson, left, and Sgt Spike McKee running on exercise machines at RAF Brize Norton to help Great Ormond Street Hospital Buy this photo » Flt Sgt Andy Gibson, left, and Sgt Spike McKee running on exercise machines at RAF Brize Norton to help Great Ormond Street Hospital

TWO airmen at RAF Brize Norton ran 12 miles for 12 days ahead of Christmas to help Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The total distance, 144 miles, is also the distance from the RAF base, at Carterton, to the specialist children’s hospital in London and back.

Sergeant Spike McKee and Flight Sergeant Andy Gibson, both 42 and parents themselves, started their charity challenge on Monday, December 3.

They have been running on treadmills at the air base, where they could be seen by, and collect donations from their colleagues.

Father-of-two Sgt McKee recently came home from a six-month tour of duty in Pakistan.

He said: “I saw a lot of children living in poverty, and I realised what a great county Britain is and how well we look after our kids.”

He spoke to Flt Sgt Gibson about ideas for how they could help raise some money themselves.

Sgt McKee lives with his wife and their daughters Honor, 17, and Sara, 12.

He said: “We’re not spring chickens, our knees are a bit sore, we have got blisters on both feet but we hung in there.”

They have already raised £750, but are hoping to collect at least £1,000, roughly enough to buy a wheelchair for a child at the hospital.

Father-of-three Flt Sgt Gibson said he wanted to do something for Christmas, but had not expected to be running 144 miles.

“I originally suggested running to Great Ormond Street, and then Spike said ‘let’s run there and back’,” he said.

“The last three days were the worst, my legs are hurting a lot.”

They had been running six miles in the morning and six in the afternoon, but last weekend they decided to do 12 miles in one go on both days.

Flt Sgt Gibson said: “It was the boredom that got to me.”

To keep themselves entertained as they ran, Sgt McKee made playlists of his favourite music for the duo to listen and sing along to while they were running.

The playlist included some of his favourite music from his native Ireland, including songs by U2, and Irish folk songs.

Unfortunately for their colleagues, the runners were listening to the music out-of-synch with each other, and were singing along slightly out of time.

Flt Sgt Gibson added: “I think the staff were starting to get fed up with it.”

They completed their challenge on Friday.

Great Ormond Street Hospital aims to raise £50m each year to treat children, buy vital equipment and fund research.

As well as taking donations as they ran, the two airmen are also accepting donations online.

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