Openreach engineers swap hi-viz for hiking boots as they ‘walk the wall’
A sixteen-strong team of Openreach engineers is taking on the challenge of one of the North East’s most iconic landmarks – Hadrian’s Wall – to raise money for worthy causes.
Setting off early today (Thursday, May 18) from Bowness-on-Solway, the engineers, who are all from the Northumberland and Wearside area, will walk around 90 miles, eventually arriving back home in the North East after the three-day adventure.
Each step will take them closer to raising money in memory of former colleagues, friends and family.
Organiser Brian Cosgrove, an Openreach operations manager from Cramlington, said: “We’re fundraising for two charities very close to our hearts – armed forces charity SSAFA and Cancer Research UK.
“Five of the team are former members of the armed forces and others have seen first-hand the incredible work SSAFA does so we were really keen to support them. Sadly, cancer has touched just about everyone we know so we were all in agreement that Cancer Research UK was also an important choice.”
Openreach engineer Bruce Hodges, who lives in Newbiggin by the Sea and served in The Royal Artillery for 26 years before joining Openreach, is just one of the 60,000 people that SSAFA help and support each year. When his close friend, a former soldier, committed suicide Bruce had the task of organising the funeral and SSAFA was there to help.
He said: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to support SSAFA. The practical help and emotional support they gave me made an extremely difficult time more bearable.
“This challenge will be tough, but nowhere near as tough as the experiences men and women in the armed forces have to deal with. It would be brilliant to raise a huge amount of money to help SSAFA continue to give veterans the lifelong support they deserve.”
James Davis, SSAFA corporate partnerships account manager, said: “SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, is very grateful to the Openreach team for their efforts in this challenge. They have shown real commitment to raising money for the Armed Forces community.
“SSAFA provides vital support for members of the Forces, past and present and their families. From helping veterans who are coming to terms with life-changing injuries or supporting families who have lost a loved one in battle, SSAFA works tirelessly to provide help and support for all members of the military family.”
The ‘Walk the Wall’ team have set themselves a fundraising target of £2000 which they are hoping they will exceed.
Brian added: “We’ve taken on fundraising challenges in the past but this is definitely going to be the toughest yet. We’ve set a target to raise £2,000 but are hoping to smash it and make every single step of the walk worthwhile.”
The team can be sponsored at https://mydonate.bt.com/teams/wtw
Since 2011 Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, has recruited more than 2,200 ex-service men and women, of which more than 200 are based in the North East. The transferable skills, talent and experience they possess have proved to be a valuable asset and Openreach is keen to encourage more applications from the armed forces community. The company is recruiting around 80 trainee engineers across the North East over the next eight months.