Published: 11:50, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 11:53, 13 January 2021
It’s taken 12 years of gruelling challenges all over the world, but veteran Steve Craddock has finally reached his £500,000 target for Help for Heroes.
His achievement makes him the charity’s biggest individual fundraiser - and he’s not stopping there.
The 63-year-old former Royal Engineers’ sergeant, who lives on St Mary’s Island, is already gearing up for his next epic raft of fundraisers.
The ex-sapper has spoken candidly about his own mental health issues in the past and recognises on a personal level how the charity supports and helps injured servicemen and women.
The pandemic scuppered his goal of reaching his milestone by the end of last year.
But despite travel restrictions and social distancing rules, Steve still managed to embark on a 420-mile cycling challenge from Rochester to the National Arboretum in Staffordshire raising thousands of pounds.
When asked what keeps him going, Steve replied: “The guys and gals out there still need help, so why should I stop now? And all charities have been hit by the pandemic, so it’s even more important that we get back on track this year whenever we can.”
He has organised and been involved in more than 50 bike-based events, many of them with fellow military colleagues, who like himself have been diagnosed with PTSD.
He recalls his toughest challenge as a 380-mile ride from Lusaka in Zambia to Victoria Falls, mostly off-road in temperatures of up to 35 degrees centigrade.
Geordie-born Steve joined the Army when he was 17.
He served multiple tours of Northern Ireland, often facing life or death situations in the battle with the IRA.
He turned to HfH for medical help when he came out of service in 1990 and discovered getting on a bike improved his mental wellbeing.
David Martin, who is head of fundraising for the charity, described his remarkable grit and determination as “mind-blowing”.
He said: “We can’t thank Steve enough.”
The charity's chief executive Melanie Waters said: “I am over the moon that Steve has reached his goal of £500,000 in support of Help for Heroes.
"His dedication to the charity is unwavering and we are incredibly grateful for his ongoing energy and passion which comes straight from the heart.
Steve is both remarkable and inspiring. We can’t thank him and his supporters enough. His fundraising is making a lasting difference to the lives of wounded veterans and their families at a time when they need it most."