A Lincoln-based solider will run a full marathon at a local gym later this month to raise money to support wounded, injured and sick veterans.
Ronnie Smith was given employability support by a charity called The Poppy Factory during his time in the civilian world and he wants to help fellow veterans in the same way.
The 34-year-old, who grew up in Hartlepool and is now based in Lincoln, had been due to run in the Boston Marathon, but the event was cancelled over coronavirus fears.
Ronnie remains determined to complete a charity running challenge so will run his own 26.2 mile marathon on Saturday, September 12 at DW Fitness First, which will soon change its name to Everlast.
Ronnie joined the army at the age of 18 and saw active service in Afghanistan, the Falklands, Jordan and Kenya with the Yorkshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion, oversaw physical training, and served as battalion medic in Cyprus.
He was first discharged in 2014 and also developed post-traumatic stress disorder linked to his experiences in the service.
Ronnie had already set himself up as a physical trainer, but support from The Poppy Factory, in particular from Employability Consultant Keiron Coombs, helped him build his confidence, work on his CV, explore a range of employment opportunities and get a number of interviews.
After receiving a clean bill of health, Ronnie rejoined the forces in April 2019 as a member of the Military Provost Guard Service based at RAF Waddington.
He is now leading physical training once again and is working towards a promotion as Lance Corporal.
Ronnie said: “My PTSD really developed hard and on top of not being able to get a job, I developed heart disease. That added insult to injury.
“I was going through a rough time, and having regular meetings with Keiron from The Poppy Factory really sorted me out. It was a weight off my shoulders knowing that someone was in my corner.”
He added: “I’ve done a few marathons over the years and I really wanted to do the Boston Marathon for The Poppy Factory so that other veterans can benefit from the same support that I had.
“Even though the event had been cancelled due to safety concerns, I am still going to run it in my local gym with the support of my girlfriend, Chelsea (Milner). She has been with me through everything.”
Ronnie is hoping to raise around £500 – click here to make a donation.