With Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dauntless returning to her spiritual home in Newcastle for one weekend only (28-29 March), the ship’s company knew they had to make the most of their time Tyneside.

And just who does a ship’s company call on in these times of need? The resident physical training instructors of course.

Leading Physical Trainer (LTP) Dan Appleby swore to his Captain that he’d help make the most of a fundraising rally of events, held in and around his old “stomping ground”, in aid of The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).


Photo: Friday night Whitley Bay FC vs HMS Dauntless

Once HMS Dauntless was alongside, the weekend’s trifecta of fundraising events began with a visit to Whitley Bay football club’s home ground of Hillheads Park, where charity pot collections for the RNRMC were taken for friendly showdown – or so the team thought.

“Now really there isn’t that much to say other than thank you for a great bit of phys chasing shadows,” LPT Appleby says sheepishly, following a HMS Dauntless’ 14-0 defeat to the four-time Vase FA Cup winners.

“Whitley Bay were brilliant hosts and even though Dauntless took an absolute pasting every lad on-board who played loved it.”

Photo: Saturday morning Warrior Beach Assault

Moving swiftly on from the evening’s battering, it was time for an early start for 17 rough and ready matelots, who were unfazed by the prospect of facing a 10-kilometre, 20 obstacle assault course on Northumberland’s rugged coastline – the Warrior Beach Assault.

With 30 Royal Fusiliers in attendance to keep competitive spirits high, the HMS Dauntless crew ploughed on through the “howling” North Sea winds and overcame deadly obstacles, with names such as the ‘Kill Zone’ and the ‘Lethal Trench’.

The day was far from over however, for seven of the 17 had also elected to take part in the charity’s Road to Twickenham challenge – which invites Royal Navy and Royal Marine staff to run, row, ride – or swim – their way their equivalent distance to Twickenham Stadium from their posted location. In the case of HMS Dauntless, this equated to a whopping 301 miles!

Photo: Saturday afternoon 301 mile ‘Road to Twickenham’ Watt Bike ride

Once safely back on board from the beach assault, the crew’s cycling challenge was in full swing. All hands were on deck to try and finish the event by the target time of 6pm, enabling the guys and girls to enjoy the rest of their time in the city.

“[With] myself on the bike for the last two hours I was dreading it, as my legs had seized up,” said LPT Appleby, who, alongside the rest of his crewmates, couldn’t believe it when they were told there were just 10 miles left to go by mid-afternoon.

“Now I’m never one to shake a head at physical activity but my lord I was over the moon when I was told I didn’t have to get on the bike. If my legs could speak they would have let out a massive loud cheer,” he said.

Counting the pennies

After three mammoth challenges, tackled within 48 hours, it was time to take stock on the achievements that the hardworking crew of HMS Dauntless had conquered.

Summing up the weekend’s exploits in full, LPT Appleby said: “From 1930 Friday evening to 1600 on Saturday afternoon, HMS Dauntless had a 90 min lesson in chasing shadows around a football pitch, covered 170km over a obstacle course and 301 miles non-stop on the Watt bikes. A pint in the Earl of Zetland was well and hard earned by the 43 individuals who chased, ran and cycled for a great and worthwhile charity.

“Thank you to all who participated, hosted, gave up their own time and contributed money to make all this work in such a short space of time,” he concluded.

HMS Dauntless’ next challenge in aid of the RNRMC will see the crew push themselves once again on a bike ride from Liverpool to Portsmouth and back again within 24 hours by bike.