A prison officer will run the Sunderland Half Marathon in full military combat gear to raise money for the Veterans Coastal Retreats charity

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Chris Graham, 39, is seeking to raise £2,500 for Veterans’ Coastal Retreats – an initiative to buy a holiday home for former servicemen and their families to enjoy a free holiday on the north Cornish coast.

The charity cites the difficulties many veterans may face in both coming to terms with some of the experiences they may have had during active service and then returning to civilian life.

It is hoped that the retreat will provide a sanctuary for veterans to escape the stress they may be experiencing.

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Chris said: ‘In the Prison Service I work with many ex-servicemen and have enormous respect and admiration for our servicemen and women. I am always amazed by the stories of selflessness, courage and sacrifice from our service personnel.

“We ask a lot of them. They are ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things, often in the most difficult circumstances and environments. It can take a heavy toll, both physically and mentally.

“Many former military personnel may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are statistically at higher risk of developing mental health issues. I just wanted to do something to show my support for these veterans.

Prison officer Chris Graham, 39, trains for his fundraising run in the Sunderland Half Marathon.

The charity is the brainchild of Richard Perkins, currently serving in the Coldstream Guards, who in 2020 set out to raise £10,000 by attempting to run from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Unfortunately Richard had to take 400 miles out of the challenge due to injury but is expected to make a second attempt this year.

Chris said: ‘I found out about the charity by following Richard’s challenge on social media. I started running more during the lockdowns and started my first marathon. With the Sunderland Half Marathon approaching, I thought it was a good opportunity to do my part to raise money for the charity.

To raise additional funds, on June 18, Chris will also run The Wall: a 70-mile ultra-marathon from Carlisle Castle to the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead.

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