Navy team takes on Bahrain half marathon for military charity

21 December 2015

A group of 21 sailors are set to tackle the Bahrain half marathon this January and raise £2000 for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Bahrain half marathon group

The idea started with Leighton O'Doherty, 32 and from Jarrow, who ran the half marathon back in 2014 and is passionate about fundraising for Blind Veterans UK as the charity supports his uncle. He put it forward to HMS Bangor's crew and now 21 people are committed to run the half marathon for Blind Veterans UK - from the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Tom Weaver, to the newest members of the ship's company.

Leighton, who joined the Royal Navy in 2002, says: "I never thought when I put the idea forward that so many people would be willing to run the Bahrain half marathon together.

"I suggested Blind Veterans UK to the team, perhaps selfishly as I have raised money before and I feel very strongly about it. The majority of the runners are fairly new to the Royal Navy and hadn't heard of the charity before but they were more than happy to support and agreed it is a worthy cause."

Leighton's uncle, Colin Williamson has received help and support from Blind Veterans UK since 2003. Colin served in the Army for five years. In 1992 he was involved in an unprovoked street attack which gradually caused him to lose his sight and he was registered blind in 2002.

Leighton says: "I've seen first-hand the support Blind Veterans UK has given to my uncle and they continue to do so to this day. It isn't just the support they give him but also to the younger guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan."

The crew served on HMS Ramsey until November and then, after a short period of leave, the crew flew to Bahrain to take over HMS Bangor for six months.

Lee Freeman, 29 and from Grimsby, says: "I was really pleased when Leighton put the idea across as it's a good way to raise money for a great charity. It is a real honour to fundraise for Blind Veterans UK - it gives me the opportunity to give back to the men and women who served for our country before me."

Lee added: "I've run this half marathon before in 2014 and as a personal goal I would like to beat my previous time."

Emma Whitty, 24 and from Portsmouth, has her own personal reason to run the Bahrain half marathon for Blind Veterans UK. Her father served in the Royal Navy for 27 years and last year had two serious operations on his eyes.

She says: "At the time I wasn't aware of Blind Veterans UK but it's great to know the charity would be there for him if his eyesight deteriorates. Any help if the worst should happen would be a blessing. I'm happy to be helping a just cause."

To support Leighton, Emma, Lee and the rest of HMS Bangor crew, please visit