The Royal Marines Commando Challenge v the Ultimate Unicorns
Posted on October 5th 2016 by Sarah Burden
It all started in 2012. On Sunday 11th March, there was a road traffic accident involving a grandmother and her three grandchildren aged 10, 6 and 5. The accident left Lily-Mae Jeffries, 5, fighting for her life along with her grandmother. Devon Air Ambulance was called to airlift to Southampton Hospital for emergency treatment, but while her grandmother survived, sadly Lily-Mae lost her life.
At the same time, members of the local community where the Jeffries family lived were searching for a team challenge. With most of the team working at Beechcroft St Paul’s Primary school, two of the staff, Deanne O’Beirne and Samantha Kelly, also volunteered as youth workers at St Paul’s church – the church where Lily-Mae’s grandmother was a parishioner.
Finding the Commando Challenge, team organiser Mandy Powell noted that it supported the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and The Royal Marines Charity. Wanting to support the service that had helped the family, as well as The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund for whom team member Caroline Westlake had a connection too, being engaged and now married to a member of the armed forces, Mandy gathered the team and entered them to the challenge.
Entering as the Beechcroft Babes, two took part in the 10k and three in the 4k challenge. The team were quickly hooked by the atmosphere and helpfulness of the volunteers and soldiers, as well as the chance to raise money for two well deserved causes.
Since that first run in memory of Lily-May Jeffries, the team has entered every year. While their first run was done in ordinary clothing, seeing other competitors dressed up inspired the team to adopt fancy dress. In the past three years they have dressed up in cat onesies, wonder woman pants and unicorn onesies. Adopting the unicorn as their mascot, the team changed their name to the Ultimate Unicorns for this year’s race, and will be wearing unicorn masks during the challenge.
The team has been made up of members of varying levels of fitness over the years, and the Commando Challenge has presented unique challenges for those battling fears of dark, confined spaces and being under water. Yet the team has risen to the challenge, confronting and overcoming their fears. The team remains as committed as ever to supporting the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and The Royal Marines Charity, and are very much looking forward to repeating their successes at their fifth entry into the challenge this October.