Next stop, PNE!

Dave Smith, Openreach; Paul Thomson, RSM from the Artillery Centre in Larkhill; Tony Palin, army veteran; Jamie Bacon, Openreach

Dave Smith, Openreach; Paul Thomson, RSM from the Artillery Centre in Larkhill; Tony Palin, army veteran; Jamie Bacon, Openreach

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Four ex-military mates will be hitting Preston North End’s football ground today as part of their tour of 92 league football grounds, within 92 hours to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

Kicking off at Goodison Park on Thursday October 18 and ending at Anfield on Saturday, the team of four will use one car to travel over 2,000 miles. Sharing the driving, they aim to work in eight-hour shifts with two men awake at any one time, one as a driver and one as a co-driver.

At each football ground along the way they will stop to take a photo which they will upload to social media, stopping on average once every hour.

The idea, which has been 12 months in the planning, was thought up by Openreach customer service employees Dave Smith, from Crosby, and Jamie Bacon, from Burscough.

Before joining Openreach, Dave was in the Royal Artillery for 23 years and Jamie was in the Army Air Corps for five years.

Dave put out the call on Facebook amongst his friends and on a group for ex-forces telecoms people to put a team together for the gruelling task.

Two military friends responded to the call, Paul Thomson, a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) from the Artillery Centre in Larkhill, Salisbury and Tony Palin an army veteran from Crewe.

Dave said: “I’ve been looking forward to doing this for so long since I first thought of the idea. I’m a big football fan, so being able to visit 92 football grounds and have the photos to prove it will be a dream come true.

“The lifelong support that SSAFA give to the armed forces and ex-armed forces is something that is very close to all four of us so I hope we can raise as much money as possible before, during and after.

“Although I’m looking forward to it, I think the lack of sleep will be interesting to see how we cope and how it affects us. I hope we’re all still mates afterwards.”

Tegan Jones, director of fundraising, SSAFA, said: “We are delighted that Dave, Jamie and the guys have been so creative in coming up with a fund-raising idea which combines their love of the beautiful game with raising money for SSAFA.

“Their driving challenge will allow us to ensure that serving personnel, veterans and their families receive the vital financial, practical and emotional support they depend on.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best of luck and thank them for helping us continue to provide assistance to some 60,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.”

To donate to the 92 clubs in 92 hours challenge, visit http://www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/davidsmith5
People can keep up to date with the team via @92clubs92hours1 on Twitter