YORKSHIRE VETERAN’S TREK: 89-year-old Jeffrey Long MBE embarks on 190-mile challenge for the armed forces
Former paratrooper and veteran Yorkshire fundraiser Jeffrey Long MBE has set out on a 190-mile walking challenge in aid of The Royal British Legion and Support Our Paras.
We met the Bingley man at the start of his challenge in Bradford.
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The former paratrooper from Bingley has single-handedly raised more than £300,000 for charity over the past 14 years and attracted celebrity endorsement along the way.
Great-grandfather Jeffrey, who served with the Paras from 1952-1957, said: “Covid has hampered my plans to an extent over the last year, so I am doubly determined to complete this challenge.”
Jeffrey will walk a total of 190 miles – 100 for the Legion to mark their centenary in 2021, plus a further 90 for Support Our Paras.
He said: "I am very proud of my time as a paratrooper and this is just my way of giving something back."
Despite having daily chemotherapy and still suffering back pain from a training injury in 1954, Jeffrey will walk around the hills above his beloved Bingley to clock up the miles for his latest challenge.
He said: “Many charities have been hit hard by the pandemic, so that’s why I am so passionate about getting out there again and completing this walk. If you look after the armed forces, they will look after you.
“I am classed as vulnerable which restricts how much I can do and how much time I can spend out of the house but I am hoping to complete the 190 miles over two months.”
Jeffrey began fundraising in 2007 when he marched 650 miles from London to Lausanne in Switzerland, carrying a 30kg backpack, to raise money for the Royal British Legion.
Since then, he has completed dozens of charity hikes, including 100 miles along the south coast to support the Legion.
His fundraising efforts went viral in 2017 when comedians Jason Manford and Iain Lee used social media followers to swell Jeffrey's JustGiving page from less than £500 to more than £120,000 in aid of the RBL.
Natalie Urbaniak, the Fundraising and Communications Manager for Support Our Paras, said: “It’s wonderful to have Jeffrey supporting us and his Airborne brothers once again this year. Despite sustaining a back injury from a parachute malfunction in 1954 when he was serving with the 12th (Yorkshire) Parachute Battalion, Jeffrey has proven that he is still ‘ready for anything’ all these years later. He has overcome a lot with his health in recent years but is determined to carry on with his fundraising walks to help those in need, and we cannot wait to cheer him on along the way.”
Tina Pringle, the Royal British Legion’s Community Fundraiser for West Yorkshire, said: “Jeffrey is one of our most remarkable fundraisers, and we are delighted to have his support. He has dedicated his retirement to raising money for our armed forces community so we hope that everyone gets behind his latest challenge.”
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