That’s the spirit

Pictured are Sharon and Michael Bannister with the award from the Royal Marines presented to Sharon for her charity fund raising efforts

Pictured are Sharon and Michael Bannister with the award from the Royal Marines presented to Sharon for her charity fund raising efforts

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SHARON Bannister has joined an elite band...of Royal Marines!

The 43-year-old recently took part in the The Royal Marines’ Chara Challenge – a 30-mile trek over Dartmoor carrying a rucksack weighing 35lb – and won herself a top award.

Upon completing the massive challenge in a brilliant 12 hours, in blistering 30 degree heat, Sharon and her team were given the Spirit Award, which is presented to Marines for their exemplary courage and determination.

Sharon, of Bickershaw, said: “My Dartmoor Challenge was the best experience I have achieved so far. Thirty of us did the same challenge as the new marine recruits on the last part of their basic training.

“I really did underestimate the course terrain, and on the day of the event the weather was the hottest day of the year.

“I was so elated when I had finished, I could not stop jumping round. I was gobsmacked that my team got presented with the Spirit Award.

“The Marines said my friends showed courage and determination to keep going, while I got the award for the spirit and the crack on the day.

“The organisers kept saying they couldn’t believe the spirit and strength I showed.

“It was such an honour to achieve the award, and then to be outstanding in the eyes of currently serving and veteran Royal Marines, I felt so proud.”

While fitness instructor Sharon has raised money for many charitable organisations, it’s the forces’ charities that she feels so strongly about.

Marrying her teenage sweetheart at the age of 16, they spent 12 years of their married life in the forces, with husband John on active service in the first Gulf War.

Sharon also spent five years as a Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) volunteer, earning her long service voluntary badge.

She added: “Our son Michael, who is 25, joined the Army last year, but is now in the TA, so I think I will always be connected with the forces. The military life has made me and my family what we are today.

“My next fund-raiser is a Zumba night for the Royal British Legion, the Veteran’s Fund and also the Wigan memorial statue.”