Soldier's Chester walk tribute to fallen comrades


Robert Platt

A SOLDIER who lost the use of his arm after an explosion in Afghanistan has completed a 154-mile trek from North Yorkshire to Chester.

Corporal Mark Tonner, 29, took four days to complete his journey through the north of England which took him to Ripon, Harrogate, Skipton, Stockport, Warrington, Runcorn and Helsby before arriving at his destination.

Mark was injured in 2010 while serving with 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (1 MERCIAN) in Helmand. It was a deployment which saw 12 soldiers from the unit killed.

As the Mercians prepare to deploy to Afghanistan again later this year, Mark felt now was the perfect time to show his continuing support by raising funds for a memorial honouring his fallen comrades.
He said: “The battalion has done a lot for me and so I wanted to help it raise money for a memorial. I would walk to the ends of the earth if they asked me to.”

Mark joined the Cheshire Regiment, one of the parent regiments of the Mercians, in 2002 aged 17. He said: “My grandad served during the Second World War. He was my idol and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I had always wanted to be a soldier and I was good with my hands so the infantry appealed to me.”
He was evacuated by helicopter to the British Military Hospital at Camp Bastion and from there home to the UK. The incident has left him with limited movement in his injured arm.
Because of his injuries Mark cannot deploy to Afghanistan with his colleagues and so he focused on walking from the unit’s base in Catterick, North Yorkshire, to its recruitment heartland in Cheshire. He trained by walking at least 16 miles each day.

Mark was supported by four other 1 MERCIAN soldiers during the walk. Each day he carried two changes of clothes, six litres of water, food and other essentials weighing up to 20lbs, all of it in adapted kit that shifted its entire weight to the strongest side of his body.
For details on Mark’s walk in support of The Mercian Benevolent Fund and ABF: The Soldier’s Charity go to www.

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