Hitchin soldier takes on army challenge

A SOLDIER from Hitchin has taken part in one of the most difficult races in the British army just a day after being told about it, helping to raise more than �5,000 for charity.

Warrant Officer Barry French, 40, was one of nearly 600 competitors to take part in the gruelling 16km Exercise Rhino Soldier in Germany, which involved tackling water crossings, muddy ditches and nets in the sub zero temperatures.

Competing in army issue boots and clothing, Barry took part with his five man team from the First Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, crossing the finishing line in just over an hour and a half.

The event helped to raise �5,000 for the Royal Artillery Charitable fund, which supports families of those killed or injured in action.

“I am chuffed to bits about how well we all did. Our team was made up of mess numbers so we are all proud,” said the former Highfield School pupil.

“As a team we all dealt with the obstacles really well and our time was better than we set ourselves at the beginning. We had a goal of around two hours but we actually came in well under that.

“The terrain was really hard, especially the sand and the mud which really took it out of us all. It reminded me of my initial military training which I really didn’t enjoy. The weather was also really tough.”

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The competition, which is based on the Tough Guy concept, saw Barry’s team finish 29th out of 91 others.

Barry, whose parents Terry and June still live in Hitchin, has been in the army for 24 years and has since served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is due a promotion to Captain next year, when he will be returning to Afghanistan.