Preston corporal to ‘tab’ 154 miles in 48 hours in memory of his mum

The motivation a person has to raise funds for a charity, any charity – even SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity – are as varied as the people.

It can be in memory of mates from a ship, a regiment, or a squadron. It can be because of help that SSAFA – UK’s oldest tri-service charity – has given to that person, a relative, or a friend.

However, Preston-born Corporal James Kirby’s motivation for embarking on his challenge – tabbing1 154 miles in 48 hours from March 10 to 12 – is deeply personal. James is fundraising for SSAFA2 in memory of his mum, Denise,

James (36), currently based in Episkopi, Cyprus, has served some 10 years with 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. He more than lives up to his regiment’s motto: “Nec Aspera Terrent” (“Difficulties be Damned”), and this motto is all the more apt because has come though some hard times.

This includes three years of homelessness after quitting the Army – re-joining in 2015 – following the suicide of his dad, and the hospitalisation of Denise and the amputation of her legs because of diabetes. Sadly, she died during the pandemic.

James gave details of his challenge, saying:

I was in Catterick – training recruits – when I was told my mum wasn’t going to make it. Catterick to home is 154 miles, so that’s why I’m running that distance.

As for doing it in 48 hours…”, he pauses, “… well, I got the news on March 10 and she fought so hard for 48 hours before passing on the 12th.”

If not difficult enough a challenge, as he tabs those 154 miles in 48 hours, James will be carrying a 59-pound load – one pound for each year of Denise’s life.

Although the second year running that James will be taking on his self-set challenge, James acknowledges that it is going to be tough, both emotionally and physically. However, his tenacity, his drive, his regimental motto, and above all, memories of his mum will keep him going – and he is hoping other units posted to Cyprus will join him for at least part of his epic tab.

James ended by noting that however hard a challenge, it will be worth it, because, as he says:

I just want to raise as much money as possible for three brilliant charities.”

To support James and donate to his challenge, visit

To learn more about the UK oldest tri-service charity, including how to volunteer or access support, visit


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