Northolt Airman’s triple challenge to thank charity for helping children

Sergeant Ian Barber, of RAF Northolt was so grateful to SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity for the help that they have previously given his family that he is putting himself through a series of gruelling challenges to raise money to help other families like his.

In 2024 Ian has pledged to run the London Marathon, cycle the London-Essex 100-mile Sportive and complete the Serpentine Swim of two miles in 90 minutes. The three events done in one year are named the London Classic and are an all-around test of fitness and endurance. Adding to the challenge, Ian has a heart condition which means that he needs to monitor his heartrate closely to ensure he remains well enough to complete each stage.

Ian said:

“It’s not a competition for me, I’m never going to get the fastest time, but I’m winning if I can complete each challenge and raise some money for SSAFA.

“Now I have started training, I’m finding it is really helping my mental health too – I feel so much better because I have lost a fair bit of weight and I’m feeling fit and healthy!”

Ian and his wife Tracey have been married 20 years, Ian’s whole career in the Armed Forces. They have four children, three of whom have additional needs which sometimes made family life challenging.

Tracey said:

“When Ian said this is what he wanted to do I was right behind him. His job is to do the training and my job is to organise the fundraising and I’m not sure which of those is more difficult!

“SSAFA helped us and the children when we needed it most. It was really hard when the kids were small, two of them having severe ADHD and another having Turner Syndrome and ASD, so lots of issues. We just needed a rest and SSAFA offered us respite breaks, during which all the children got to do adventurous activities and have a great time, and Ian and I had a bit of time off together. I can’t tell you how much it helped – it was a real lifesaver for all of us.”

Tracey also was helped by SSAFA during one of her pregnancies when she had mobility issues.

“I was in agony and couldn’t walk, but I had little children and needed to get them to school. SSAFA helped fund a mobility scooter so I could still get around and be a bit independent. It allowed Ian to carry on working instead of having to care for me and the children too. SSAFA has just been such a help to us as a family and I want to help it to help other people like us.”

Running the London Marathon for SSAFA requires a minimum fundraising amount of £2,500 and Tracey is cooking up breakfast and cake every Thursday morning at RAF Northolt, where the couple work, to kickstart their fundraising.

To contribute to their challenge visit:

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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