Ant Middleton unveiled as Expedition Ambassador for Historic D-Day Expedition In support of Armed Forces charity, Walking With The Wounded.

Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) and Challenge The Wild proudly announce that Ant Middleton will join the historic D-Day expedition team as they journey to Normandy, setting off on 5 June 2024.

Led by Dan Searson, WWTW Ambassador and founder of Challenge The Wild, this poignant expedition will commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought on the shores of Normandy eighty years ago.

Starting from the historic Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s former residence, on 5 June 2024, the team will journey to Normandy and land on Juno Beach to pay their respects and return a handful of sand that was taken from the beach on D-Day. The sand was taken by Dan Searson’s grandfather, Second Lieutenant Gilbert Jones.

After returning the sand to Juno Beach, the expedition team will light a Lamp Light of Peace at 9:15 pm (local time) on each of the five Normandy beaches involved in the D-Day landings. This act forms part of the broader D-Day 80 Lamp Light of Peace celebrations taking place across the UK and beyond.

This will be followed by a 150km hike spanning the Normandy landing sites, including Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, as well as key monuments and memorials.

Dan Searson, Founder of Challenge The Wild, said,

“Leading this expedition to return sand taken by my grandfather on D-Day is a profound honour. It serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom. I am privileged to support Walking With The Wounded in this endeavour and I am incredibly grateful for the support of Ant Middleton.”

Ant Middleton, a veteran, adventurer, and star of “SAS Who Dares Wins,” expressed his pride in joining the D-Day 80 Expedition team as an Ambassador. He noted,

“Eighty years ago, our frontline soldiers demonstrated incredible bravery, courage, and strength as they accomplished the unthinkable by participating in one of the largest naval, air and land operations in history. It’s an honour for me to be part of the team bringing a handful of sand back to Juno Beach, eighty years later, in memory of those who gave so much for our freedom.” 

The team taking on the challenge are:

  • John Baker – John served in the 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery in the 1990’s. He later joined the prison service at HMP Leeds in 2007. In 2012, he founded the Veterans in Custody programme at HMP Leeds, a support group for those who have served.
  • Andrew Swingler – Joined the RAF when he was 16 years old as an apprentice technician. After his apprenticeship he spent the rest of his career on various front-line squadrons operating fast jets (Tornado GR4 and F3, Jaguar, Harriers MK7 & 9) based in the UK and Germany with deployments world-wide. He left the RAF in 2006 and joined Expleo. As part of his role, he is also the Armed Forces Champion at Expleo.
  • Jonathan Taylor– began his career with Expleo in 2004 and holds more than 20 years’ experience in the nuclear, aerospace and defence sectors. As Vice President of Expleo’s global marine business, Jonathan’s vision is to lead the division to become an internationally recognised maritime industry solutions provider.
  • Carl Blower– Served in the RAF for 13 years. He later served as a Police Officer for twenty years and founded the Salford Veterans Community Centre.
  • Mike Hopkins- Started his career as an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce aged 16 and worked on the company Spitfire, making replacement fuselage panels and re-fitting the original Griffin engine. He also volunteered as a Civilian Instructor in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and then a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Training Branch. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Expleo and champions the recruitment of ex-service personnel.
  • Darryl Mills – Served in the Royal Artillery. He currently works as the Engineering Operations Manager for Sunbelt Rentals based in Portsmouth. He is a keen trail, mountain and Ultra runner and enjoys anything mountain based, especially in the Alps.
  • Luke Hepworth – Luke Hepworth is a global adventurer and adrenalin junkie with a philanthropic twist. For every adventure Luke completes, he donates and raises money for charity. Luke joined Challenge The Wild as an Ambassador. He also took part in Walking With The Wounded’s ‘Walk of Oman’ expedition in 2021.

To find out more, please visit: The D-Day Expedition (ddayexpedition.co.uk)

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