A SOLDIER from Kidderminster took on a gruelling 24km hike around the town to raise money and awareness of mental health support for the armed forces following the tragic death of a comrade.

Jack Wood, who serves in The Rifles, was moved to act following the devastating news that a comrade had recently taken his own life.

The 20-year-old and a group of five other Riflemen decided to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, who do vital work to support the mental health of veterans and current servicemen and women.

Jack told the Shuttle: "It was terrible news for my colleagues and I. So we decided to do our part in fighting the problem of mental health in the military. It is the biggest killer of young men in our community and it needs tackling head on."

The group were originally set to take on a 24km hike over the Pen Y Fan in Wales, called the Fan Dance, but their plans were forced to change due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Instead, Jack walked 24km around Franche, all while carrying a 20kg pack, on Tuesday May 12.

His comrades also took on the challenge from their respective parts of the globe, with two Rifleman completing the trek on a treadmill in the Falklands.

Thanks to their efforts, the group have so far raised more than £1,300 for SSAFA, smashing their target to raise £750.

Jack paid special thanks to the Wyre Forest Round Table who donated £500 to the pot.

He added: "The challenge itself was extremely hard work as we were carrying around 15-20kg each. We all kept in contact via our group chat to cheer each other on as we ran. All of us completed the 24km route in and around three hours which we are all very happy with.

"My fellow Riflemen and I are really impressed with how our community came to support us and our efforts."

To make a donation to appeal, visit gofundme.com/f/lockdown-fan-dance.