Exeter soldier raises more than £2,000 in 24 hour cycle for Blind Veterans UK

1 February 2015 15:20

A local soldier has raised more than £2,000 for a military charity after cycling for 24 hours straight on a stationary bicycle.

Steve Tonking, aged 34 and from Exeter, took on the Herculean challenge to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

The target set was to cycle a distance of 1000 km, which is equal to cycling from Nottingham to John O'Groats. The soldier, now based in Nottingham, and his team of 12 friends and colleagues supporting him, easily went past this target reaching 1202km, with Steve riding an incredible 500km himself.

Throughout the 24 hour challenge, without leaving the local branch of Tesco's, Steve burned an incredible 18,000 calories - the equivalent of more than a week's worth of a normal man's intake.

Steve said: "This is one of the hardest challenges I have ever taken on. The physical challenge was one thing, particularly the strain on my backside, but the mental strain staying awake for that long was much more difficult than I predicted. There's no way I would have been able to complete it without the twelve guys riding with me.

"I am so pleased that we've been able to raise this much money and I know that it will be put to such great use by Blind Veterans UK."

"My grandfather was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during the Second World War and received support from Blind Veterans UK after he lost his sight. They have helped so many more like him and will continue to for as long as they're needed."

Originally founded in 1915 and previously known as St Dunstan's, the charity originally helped war-blinded World War I veterans. Today, Blind Veterans UK provides free services and help to veterans no matter what the cause of their sight loss, be it due to accident, illness or medical conditions such as Macular Degeneration. The charity currently provides rehabilitation, training, care and recreational activities via its three centres (in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield) and a network of welfare staff spanning the UK.

Steve joined the Army in 2000 and became part of the Royal Engineers. He is a Warrant Officer Class II, which is the second highest rank for a non-commissioned officer. With the Army he has been stationed in Germany and the United Kingdom and has completed multiple operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Steve's physical challenges to raise money for Blind Veterans UK have not finished and he is set to take on the London Marathon to raise even more money for the military charity.

He said: "I'm passionate about keeping fit so taking on these challenges to raise money for Blind Veterans UK is a great motivator for me. The marathon will be tough, but at least I won't be running for 24 hours!"

You can still sponsor Steve for the cycle or the upcoming marathon for Blind Veterans UK, please visit