A Founding Patron of RBLI’s Tommy Club who is under a strict quarantine after travelling to Australia is set to run a marathon in his 30ft hotel room to raise crucial funds for the project during the pandemic.
Former British Army Officer Ash Alexander-Cooper travelled to Sydney this month to reunite with his 12-year-old daughter after more than a year apart. But due to the country’s strict covid regulations, he must first complete a two-week quarantine in total isolation which sees him confined to his room, with meals delivered to his door and unable to even open a window.
So the Gurkha veteran, who’s survived being shot in both legs, a number of explosive incidents, a suicide bomber and a helicopter crash during a 22-year service career in which he became one of the Army’s most experienced operational specialists, decided to take the opportunity to raise crucial funds for a cause close to his heart.
Ash is a Founding Patron of the Tommy Club – a project set up by Royal British Legion Industries last year to raise funds for the charity’s employment, welfare and housing support services for military veterans who have fallen on hard times. The club, which boasts of high-profile supporters including England captain Harry Kane, has already raised more than £160,000 thanks to its 1550 supporters since its October launch.
Former Colonel Ash, 48, who in his post-service career has become a leading mental health advocate, was inspired to take on the challenge after a recent survey by RBLI revealed the damaging effects the pandemic has had on his fellow military veterans.
The survey found that one in 10 veterans feel their mental health has been significantly impacted due to the pandemic. Over 30% identified social isolation and loneliness as the biggest contributing factor.
Ash said: “My experiences in the Armed Forces have certainly had an impact on me. I’m very aware of the trauma and losses I’ve witnessed but I’m also aware just how incredibly lucky I am that my experiences have not taken too much of a toll on me since leaving the Armed Forces. My wounds remain primarily physical rather than mental”.
“That sadly cannot be said for all military veterans who, even in ordinary times, can face unbelievable challenges in the civilian world. Because of the pandemic, these challenges have only become more significant, so it’s vital we as a nation do all we can to show our support”.
Ash will undertake the marathon on Monday 14 June, 9am BST, and hopes to complete the marathon in under 4 hours, running more than 4600 lengths of his hotel room in the process.
Ash added: “Needless to say, it’s been difficult to prepare. I’ve done a few test runs, and it’s definitely going to be tough on the ankles, having to change direction every 8 steps or so – and hopefully the injuries from my service days don’t cause me too many problems”.
“Most importantly though, it’s all about raising awareness and crucial funds for veterans at this incredibly difficult time and I hope it will inspire others to get behind the Tommy Club”.
“So I’m just going to have to get myself into the zone and remember exactly why I am taking this on.”
Every penny raised through Ash’s fundraising will go to support Royal British Legion Industries’ activities helping military veterans and their families including two social enterprise factories, as well as care homes, assisted living accommodation and family homes on the charity’s Kent village.
Support Ash as he takes on his hotel marathon and donate to support military veterans via the Tommy Club, visit tinyurl.com/hotelmarathon