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Small ship HMS Chiddingfold makes big effort for Hampshire charity

Chiddingfold sailors in the outdoor pool at the US Base in Bahrain
1 February 2021
All 42 sailors on veteran minehunter were seized by the fitness bug to help a Hampshire charity.

Every single member of the crew of the Portsmouth warship – currently deployed on a three-year mission to the Gulf – committed to covering 37 kilometres in a sporting discipline inside seven days as part of a combined keep fit/fundraising drive.

The crew fell upon the unusual target of 37 because (1) it’s the ship’s pennant number and (2) it’s the number of years since the minehunter was launched.

They could run, cycle, row or swim the 37 kilometres over one week, combine totals, cover the distance in one go… or surpass it – as many of them.

“For people who maintain a high level of fitness, 37km in a week is an easy target; but as the entire ship’s company were involved the idea was to allow each person to set their own goals,” explained Marine Engineer Officer Warrant Officer 1st Class Lee ‘Pat’ Paterson.

Lieutenant Grant Milnes, Chid’s Executive Officer, set the bar high by completing the 37km run in one go, cheered on and encouraged by the rest of the ship’s company.

And the oldest Chid, Petty Officer (Mine warfare) Jimmy Green cycled 37km in one hit. Three times over.

 Some sailors chose to complete 37km in every discipline – that’s 1,480 lengths of a pool, before running the best part of a marathon, then rowing 5½ Oxford-Cambridge boat races and doing a good hour of cycling to round things off.

In difficult times, it is important to remember those who are doing extraordinary work to improve the lives of others, which is why the whole of the crew dug extra deep

WO1 Lee 'Pat' Paterson, HMS Chiddingfold's marine engineer officer

“From the start, every member of the ship’s company stepped up to the challenge, updating their distances every day on the progress board – the ‘small ship’ close team spirit defined the week,” Lee added.

By the time the challenge ended, the crew had covered 345.25km in the water (that’s 13,081 pool lengths), ran 653.5km (roughly the distance between Portsmouth and Arbroath), cycled 2,005km (Portsmouth to the southern tip of Sicily) and rowed 185km (Portsmouth to Dartmouth).

On foot, bike, rowing machine and in the pool, collectively the crew clocked up an impressive 3,188.75km in seven days – an average of 75.9km by every single member of the ship’s company.

All of which not only benefits their health and fitness levels, but also Fareham-based charity The Rainbow Centre which helps children with cerebral palsy and adults with MS, Parkinson’s and those recovering from strokes.

“In difficult times, it is important to remember those who are doing extraordinary work to improve the lives of others, which is why the whole of the crew dug extra deep,” said Lee.

“When many wanted to get out of the pool on the 215th length or stop running after 30 kilometres, the amazing work this great charity undertakes kept them going and kept the generous sponsorship funds rising, far surpassing the goal of £1,000, reaching a total of £3,200 for this fantastic charity.”

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