Mascots from Southern Water and the Army were pitted against each other in the Army Powerbag Challenge at Fontwell Park to launch the Southern Water Armed Forces Charity Race Day, which takes place on Saturday, October 4.
The intense aerobic exercise race sets the scene for Southern Water’s race day, which will be attended by each of the three armed forces and will raise money for the disabled ex-servicemen and women of the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing.
Corporal Derek Derenalagi, who is British Paralympic discus thrower and QAHH ambassador, was seriously injured in Helmand Province by an explosive device in 2007. He lost both legs in the blast but recovered and represented Great Britain in the 2012 Paralympics.
Derek, still a soldier and in training for the 2016 Paralympics, is guest speaker at the race day in October.
“It is humbling to be involved and I am looking forward to helping raise funds and awareness for QAHH. Residents at the home have their goals and the nurses and therapists work so hard to help them achieve these,” he said.
“The blast was devastating for not only me but my family, too. It was a tough road to recovery, which had its ups and downs, but I look at the positives and thank God I managed to get through.
“My own personal experience demonstrates that having a physical disability does not mean you can’t have goals and in my role as ambassador to QAHH I’d like to show people that being physically disabled means you can still have a good quality of life.”
Kevin Buck MBE, who organises Southern Water’s charity fundraising, said: “Taking on a challenge against the physical expertise of the Army over a 25m course is to be applauded – especially when wearing the Mr Drink-It mascot.
“We were delighted to win the challenge – it’s all in a very good cause and I can’t believe we beat the fittest in the Army in this timed event, albeit dressed in what must have been a very hot dog costume!”
The Southern Water day is set to be the biggest yet with a host of armed forces representatives in attendance, including the Military Wives Choir and the Corps of the Band of the Royal Engineers.
There will be a Spitfire plane with a full military display, military vehicles, a military band, recruitment stands, promotional activities, children’s entertainment and much more.
Simon Williams, Fontwell Park’s executive director, said: “The team here are delighted to be working with Southern Water for their race day, now in its eighth year.
“We would particularly like to welcome their chosen charity for this year’s October Festival, the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing.
“As one of our feature race days of the year and always a highlight in the social calendar, there will be plenty of activities on the day to help raise as much money for this great charity.”
Before then, Fontwell Park begins a new season of jump racing with Ladies’ Evening on Thursday, August 14.
A family fun charity race day will be held on Sunday, September 7, with eight races plus free entertainment including bouncy castles, zorbing, face-painting, fun-fair rides and a chance to sign up to the Young Hooves Kids Club for a free goody bag.