Towards the end of last year, SI Lloyd Lester (Walton Detachment) took part in the Paras’10 competition, which involved tabbing for ten miles with a 35lb backpack, to raise money for good causes. Together with the efforts of Sergeant James Kilbride and WO2 Neal Fraser (both from the Parachute Regiment and who tabbed in a separate location) and with the help of his support team, they raised an astonishing £7600 to pay for the restoration of an historic military aircraft.
SI Lester (left) and SMI Moody at Polebrook airfield. (picture Tina Corby)
The event is normally held annually at Colchester, but the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the normal event, with participants instead having to tab the route in their local area. SI Lester planned an equivalent route in the Peterborough area from the former site of RAF Polebrook airfield (a USAAF airbase during The Second World War), to Ferry Meadows.
He was supported by his stepson, Able Seaman Thomas Corby, who tabbed with him, and Walton Detachment Commander SMI Vince Moody who followed SI Lester in a support vehicle. SI Lester’s friend, Sgt James Kilbride, and WO2 Neal Fraser of the National training team, tabbed the distance in Colchester.
SI Lester begins the challenge and right, Able Seaman Thomas Corby, who tabbed with him. (pictures Vince Moody and Tina Corby)
The team raised the money for the restoration of an historic Douglas Dakota C-47 aircraft which is the gate guardian at Mereville Barracks in Colchester (home of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces). This particular aircraft is of historic significance as it took part in Operation Market Garden in 1944 when paratroopers were dropped into the Netherlands to seize key bridges that were important for the allied advance.
SI Lester at Polebrook.
SI Lester and Sgt Kilbride used their extensive contacts amongst military personnel and aviation enthusiasts to network on social media and raise enough money to make a vital difference to the aircraft’s future preservation.
The Dakota C-47 at Colchester.
SI Lester, who is himself a veteran having served as a reservist in The Royal Corps of Signals, has taken part in multiple previous fund-raising efforts but found this one to be a real challenge.
‘I got about half-way with no problems but then it became a struggle. It was a case of gritting my teeth and pushing through. The last mile was very difficult, but I got encouragement from my support team, and as I got into Ferry Meadows people saw what was happening and I got some cheers - this gave me the little bit of power needed to finish.’
When it became clear in the weeks afterwards just how much money had been raised, SI Lester was amazed. ‘I thought wow, I couldn’t have imagined we would raise so much.’
1 Company OC Major Deacon said, ‘Congratulations to Lloyd, who has once again completed an extraordinary fundraising effort for a good cause. He is a great ambassador for Walton Detachment, 1 Company and for our County.’
Text by PI Doug Stuart with thanks to SI Lester
The total money raised so far is through several different fundraising pages. SI Lester's page is at;