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Army Staff Sgt Simon Irving completes 24 hour challenge on Stairmaster machine for Combat Stress at Anytime Fitness gym, Dover

A member of the armed forces who enjoys endurance challenges has completed his latest feat in a Dovergym, which could well have been the hardest so far.

Royal Army Physical Training Corps Staff Sergeant Simon Irving, 42, completed 24 hours on a Stairmaster machine at the Anytime Fitness Gym at the James Street development, raising £1235 for Combat Stress.

The charity supports veterans' mental health from all three services.

The former Archers Court School and South Kent College student completed 22 years in the army and rejoined last September. Throughout that period he has experienced some of the stresses felt by veterans.

He said: "I was lucky enough to have a good family and friend network to support me but there are many ex-service personnel who don’t and this is where combat stress steps in; this charity relies on donations but due to Covid the main sources of income from things like marathons have been cancelled resulting in less money available when charities more than ever are needed to help others."

SSgt Irving's love of PT developed in the army having first enlisted 1n 1996 as a RLC Driver.

He followed the PTI course and career pathway before being selected to transfer in 2007 to the Royal Army Physical Training Corps.

"why I did this? There are many ex-service men and women that suffer with mental health issues who don't have the support from family and friends or don't want to share the burden on them, so it is vitally important that charities like Combat Stress exist..."

After leaving and rejoining he is now based with 1 Signal Regiment in Stafford.

As an endurance athlete he has completed arduous courses during his career including P Company, Trail Walker which he has done three times and he has done the Three Peaks Challenge nine times - once he cycled between each peak - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

But this challenge was different as there was no stopping, no down hill and no change of view.

He stared it at 5pm on Friday, October 2 and finished it the same time the next day.

He said: "The hardest hours were between 2am and 4am where my legs were screaming at me and I was fighting a mental battle to keep it going - a battle I wasn't prepared to lose!

When things got hard and the pain level was high, Staff Sgt Simon Irving got inspiration from his five year-old daughter Athena
When things got hard and the pain level was high, Staff Sgt Simon Irving got inspiration from his five year-old daughter Athena

"Around 8am I got my biggest lift thanks to modern technology, a Facetime call from my five-year old daughter Athena.

"What helped me through was not just physical preparation but the support of my family and friends and the Anytime Fitness Dover gym staff .

"But why I did this - there are many ex-service men and women that suffer with mental health issues who don't have the support from family and friends or don't want to share the burden on them, so it is vitally important that charities like Combat Stress exist to be there to provide support for veterans and their families; raising money will help them continue to help our ex-servicemen and women."

By the end of the 24hour challenge, SSgt Irving had completed 108025 steps, climbed6342 floors and burned 17000 calories.

He readily admits this was one of, if not the hardest challenge he has taken part in and this would not have been achievable without the support of friends and family.

Simon Irving taking a well deserved rest after his 24 hour Stairmaster challenge
Simon Irving taking a well deserved rest after his 24 hour Stairmaster challenge

You can support SSgt Simon Irving's fundraising by donating here .

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