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Marple resident on the ‘Frontline’ again

Gabrielle Pickard Whitehead

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Chris Price Marple British Army Chris Grice Mike Connaughton Bris Lightowler ABF The soldiers Charity

You may remember our feature on Chris Price, an ex-serviceman from Marple who was preparing to take part in the Frontline Walk. Well Chris is safely back from the ambitious charity event walking the major WWI battlefields and was keen to share his adventures with the Marple Review.  

What’s more, in October, Chris is heading to the battlefields once more, to participate in the last of five centennial Frontline walks marking the WWI years, with three former colleagues, Chris Grice, Mike Connaughton and Bris Lightowler. 

Chris served in the British Army for more than 20 years, deployed on operations in both the first and second Gulf War, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. 

“Participation in this event was my way of giving something back to the Army which provided me with such a great career and life.  Having suffered from PTSD as a result of my own military service I am acutely aware of the amount of servicemen and women who now need our support, and believe, as a society, we owe them this dignity and support in times of hardship,” said Chris. 

The former serviceman described the 2017 walk as an “emotional rollercoaster.” Chris was part of a three-man team, who embarked on the three-day walk at La Boiselle, the heart of the Somme Offensive in 1916 where a service of remembrance was held at the Lochnagar Crater, one of numerous underground mines exploded on the morning of 1st July 1916, the start of the Somme Offensive.  Today, Lochnagar is a place of remembrance, untouched since 1916 and is over 100 metres wide and 30 metres deep.  Chris described Lochnagar as a “stark reminder of the thousands of lives that were lost on the first day of the Somme Offensive, many of them from of Marple.”

One of the biggest highlights of the event was finishing the walk at the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing, in Ypres Belgium, on which the names of over 55,000 soldiers are inscribed in stone panels.  

“None of these men have any known grave and amongst them is my Great Uncle Thomas, Pte Travers of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry who was killed in action in 1915.  Seeing his name inscribed in stone was hugely emotional but made me hugely proud.”  

Chris and his two former military colleagues raised more than £7,000 out of a total £125,000 raised for the ABF, The soldiers Charity. 

Following the success of last year’s walk, this year Chris and three former colleagues, Chris Grice, Mike Connaughton and Bris Lightowler will be walking through the WWI battlefields with a team of 14 ex-servicemen, along with Chris’s 78-year-old father, in the last of five centennial Frontline Walks.

Bris Lightowler, a former 22-year career soldier, explained “I count myself very lucky; many of my friends have and are suffering from all types of issues, mental and physical, as a direct result of their service. I owe it to my them to help raise money for this wonderful charity whose sole aim is to help them.”

Mike Connaughton is now in his 30th year of service. Mike says he signed up to do the Frontline Walk to raise money for a charity that supports servicemen and their families. 

“We are mostly old blokes who are plagued by a variety of injuries, trying to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund. As I embark on the journey I will chronicle the graves of the Intelligence Corps soldiers that we lost in that dreadful conflict,” said Mike. 

Chris Grice told the Marple Review that he’s doing the walk because he wanted to get some greater understanding of the sacrifice made so that we can live now as we do. 

If you would like to make a donation to the 2018 Frontline Walk and help provide invaluable support to soldiers, veterans and their families, you can do so at: 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chrisjprice

You can also text FLCP67 plus your £(amount) to 70070and the donation will go directly to the charity. 

A collection box has also been placed in Trek N Travel in Marple Precinct by the kind permission of Paul Dykins, the proprietor.