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No sleep ‘til Anfield - Ex-military football fans drive to 92 football grounds in 92 hours to raise money for armed forces charity

Press Release   •   Oct 19, 2016 11:01 BST

Kicking off the challenge at Goodison Park. Names left to right – Dave Smith, Openreach; Paul Thomson, RSM from the Artillery Centre in Larkhill; Tony Palin, army veteran; Jamie Bacon, Openreach.

Four ex-military mates are taking on the drive of their lives as they visit 92 league football grounds in 92 hours to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

Kicking off at Goodison Park on 18th October and ending at Anfield on 22 October, the team of four will use one car to travel over 2000 miles. Sharing the driving, they aim to work in eight hour shifts with two men awake at any one time, one as a driver and one as a co-driver.

At each football ground along the way they will stop to take a photo which they will upload to social media, stopping on average once every hour.

The idea, which has been 12 months in the planning, was thought up by Openreach customer service employees Dave Smith, from Crosby, Merseyside and Jamie Bacon, from Burscough in Lancashire. Before joining Openreach, Dave was in the Royal Artillery for 23 years and Jamie was in the Army Air Corps for five years.

Dave put out the call on Facebook amongst his friends and on a group for ex-forces telecoms people to put a team together for the gruelling task.

Two military friends responded to the call, Paul Thomson, a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) from the Artillery Centre in Larkhill, Salisbury and Tony Palin an army veteran from Crewe.

Dave said, “I’ve been looking forward to doing this for so long since I first thought of the idea. I’m a big football fan, so being able to visit 92 football grounds and have the photos to prove it will be a dream come true.

“The lifelong support that SSAFA give to the armed forces and ex-armed forces is something that is very close to all four of us so I hope we can raise as much money as possible before, during and after.

“Although I’m looking forward to it, I think the lack of sleep will be interesting to see how we cope and how it affects us. I hope we’re all still mates afterwards!”

Tegan Jones, director of fundraising, SSAFA said: “We are delighted that Dave, Jamie and the guys have been so creative in coming up with a fundraising idea which combines their love of the beautiful game with raising money for SSAFA. Their driving challenge will allow us to ensure that serving personnel, veterans and their families receive the vital financial, practical and emotional support they depend on.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best of luck and thank them for helping us continue to provide assistance to some 60,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.”

To donate to the ‘92 clubs in 92 hours’ challenge, please visit – https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/davidsmith5

You can keep up with the team's progress on Twitter @92clubs92hours1

ENDS

For further information about this news release please contact Janet Hare in the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be read at www.bt.com/newscentre

About SSAFA

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity (formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force, and their families. This includes both regulars and reserves.

Each year, our professional staff and network more than 7,000 volunteers provide assistance to some 60,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.

For more information visit www.ssafa.org.uk and follow us on Twitter: @SSAFA.

About Openreach

Openreach is responsible for the last mile of the UK access network – the copper wires and fibre connecting homes and businesses to their local telephone exchanges.Openreach provides communications providers with services and products associated with that network.

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com