Three veterans take to one vehicle to travel 2,000 miles - but in how many days?

Lesley Thurlbourn, Cllr Stephen Thurlbourn and Callum McEachnie - all set for their charity road trip
Lesley Thurlbourn, Cllr Stephen Thurlbourn and Callum McEachnie - all set for their charity road trip
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Their service in the military has seen them travel all over the world and face the harshest of conditions, so a trip to the four corners of Great Britain in a comfy people carrier might not seem like such a challenge.

But for three former forces friends from South Ribble, a leisurely drive around the country would have been too simple - and it probably would not have helped them achieve their aim of raising money for three charities close to their hearts.

So instead, the group is attempting a trip of 2,000 miles in just 48 hours, taking in the most northerly, easterly, southerly and westerly Royal British Legion bases in the country - and yet, curiously, they will have only three calling points en route.

“It turns out that Penzance is the most southerly and most westerly base, so that was quite lucky,” laughs recently-elected South Ribble Borough councillor Stephen Thurlbourn, in whose Range Rover the trio will travel, along with Stephen’s wife, Lesley.

The journey begins early on Wednesday morning when the poppy-bearing vehicle will leave Lancashire and head for Thurso in Scotland, before travelling to Lowestoft in East Anglia, across to Penzance and back home - all in just two days.

“I’m confident we’ll do it in less than 48 hours,” says fellow veteran Callum McEachnie, who came up with the idea.

“You get four hours behind the wheel and 12 hours off, so you’ve got respite and time to eat and sleep.”

The money they hope to raise will be split between the British Legion, St. Catherine’s Hospice and Kidney Care UK. The connection to the veterans' charity is obvious, but there are also personal links to the other beneficiaries of their road trip.

Stephen and Lesley’s daughter passed away from renal failure when she was just 15 weeks old, while Callum’s wife was looked after by St. Catherine’s before her death three years ago.

“I was sat in the British Legion last year in dreamland and Stephen asked me what I was thinking about,” Callum recalls.

“I said I’d come up with this idea of raising some money for St. Cath’s and he stuck his hand out to shake mine and said ‘let’s do this’.”

Now the day is almost here, Stephen has no regrets about signing up - and no worries about how the group will get along while they are stuck in such a confined space.

“We’re all good friends and it’s a bit of boy’s adventure - with my wife keeping us all in check," says Stephen, who represents Farington West on the council.

“We didn’t want to sit there thinking about it, we wanted to get off our bums and do something," adds Stephen, who spent eight years in the Scots Guards.

Between them, the group has clocked up 20 years’ service, with Callum having spent time in the Merchant Navy and fellow traveller Neil Faraher being a Royal Tank Regiment veteran who served in The Gulf.

The only brief time the wheels will stop turning on the trip is on Thursday morning, when Stephen’s father - himself a former forces member - will provide a well-earned pit stop to serve up some home-cooked food near the Lowestoft stop.

“Obviously, we’ll have other comfort stops along the way,” laughs Callum.

Stephen is also promising pictorial proof that the group has made to each of their promised destinations.

After their return on Friday, the friends are heading straight to a welcome home bash at the Lostock Hall British Legion, where they are hoping the cash will keep on rolling in.

Anybody wishing to donate to the group can visit - www.gofundme.com/poppy-run