Former Royal Navy serviceman from Wigan to embark on gruelling canal challenge

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A former Royal Navy serviceman who lives in Wigan is embarking on a gruelling canal challenge to raise money for a leading veterans’ charity.

Andrew Ledwith, from Standish, will run 36 miles along the towpath from Liverpool to Wigan in one marathon effort in aid of the Royal British Legion (RBL).

The challenge is to thank the organisation for the support it has given Andrew to do the qualifications he needs to work as a personal trainer.

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Andrew set up a fitness business while he and wife Samantha were living in the south west of France but on returning to the UK found the course he had done there was not recognised.

Andrew Ledwith is preparing to run along the canal towpath in aid of charityAndrew Ledwith is preparing to run along the canal towpath in aid of charity
Andrew Ledwith is preparing to run along the canal towpath in aid of charity | jpimedia

The continental sojourn also put Andrew and Samantha on the nation’s small screens as they were featured on Channel 4 programme A New Life in the Sun.

Andrew has done marathons and triathlons up to half-Ironman distance before but says the canal run will still be a tough task, especially as the coronavirus restrictions mean he may have to bring back the spirit of his time in the armed forces and be self-sufficient throughout the day.

Andrew, 39, said: “I had been doing personal training in France for four years but my qualifications there don’t stand up here.

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“The RBL has helped me out by funding me a course so I wanted to give something back with this fund-raising challenge.

“I was running along the canal and I saw a waymarker saying it was 36 miles to Liverpool. That got me thinking it would be a cracking challenge.

“It’s 10 miles more than a marathon so it’s going to be really hard. There aren’t going to be any water stations or people handing out nutrition bars.

“I’m going to have to tap into my military background and mental strength to get through it.

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“I’ve got a friend who’s ex-Army and he’s going to cycle along with me, helping with nutrition and carrying water.”

Andrew has pencilled in August 8 as the date of his canal challenge, setting off from Merseyside and finishing in the borough.

He is following a training plan for the challenge and is glad the lockdown restrictions have been eased to allow for unlimited exercise as he ramps up the distances he needs to run.

Andrew served in the Royal Navy for five years between 2001 and 2006 and has also worked in fire prevention.

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He and Samantha then decided on a change of surroundings following the death of her father, who owned a house in the Lot Valley on the other side of the Channel, from cancer in 2015.

The couple decided to move back to the UK following the birth of their son Tobias, who is now 18 months old, as they did not want him to miss out on socialising with other children growing up in such a remote, rural location.

To find out more about Andrew’s challenge or to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-ledwith4