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PCSO Mark is scaling the heights for hospice

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 08, 2013

PCSO Mark Bridgwood

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A PCSO is swapping pounding the streets of Cheadle to climb the world's tallest mountain.

Cheadle Local Neighbourhood Policing PCSO Mark Bridgwood is taking park in a charity trek to Mount Everest's Base Camp - a climb of 17,700ft (5,395m) - to raise money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

He starts in Katmandu on March 22 and will return home to the UK on April 7.

The charity is particularly close to Mark's heart as his brother died of cancer 13 years ago and one of his friends Neil Watson, originally from Cheadle, passed away just before Christmas and was in the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Blurton shortly before he died.

He said: "I decided to do this because it is 2013 and 13 years since my brother died and because of the recent death of Neil.

"I was going to do it for Help For Heroes because of my background with the military, which is also why I enjoy hill and long distance walking and being outdoors.

"I have done treks for Help For Heroes and other charities before, but I haven't done anything at altitude.

"I've also taken part in cycle challenges for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, cycling 50 miles from Stoke to Nantwich and back, and I supervise for the women's Moonlight walk at Britannia Stadium.

"Any kind of charity work that I do I always do for Help For Heroes or The Douglas Macmillan Hospice."

Before becoming a PCSO Mark was in the Army for 28 years and did tours in the Gulf and Iraq.

He explained: "I worked in transport and used to run the driving school at RAF Stafford. When I finished doing that I was put in charge of the airport at Basra in Iraq.

"I also did the second tour of the Gulf war and the second tour in Iraq and looked after the airhead and was on the airfield pushing the aircraft back and re-fuelling the aircraft.

"I decided to leave because I only had two years left on my contract and my squadron was moved from Stafford.

"I originally wanted to join the ambulance service but I couldn't get in, then I applied to be a PCSO and I'm really pleased I went for it because I love this job.

"I've been a PCSO for six-and-a-half years and I enjoy helping people, we get more of the nicer bits than the PCs get."

As a regular hill walker Mark does not need too much training, but he does go to the gym as often as he can.

He said: "The only thing I can't train for is the altitude, I've just got to hope that I'll be OK with it. I'm hoping ideally to raise £500 but anything is great.

"I'm a Governor at Cheadle Primary School and they have taken this on board and pupils and staff have been giving out sponsor forms.

"The parents have also been really supportive, as has my local pub the Wellington Inn in London Road. It's nice to be able to help a really good cause that can do with all of the help it can get."

The Douglas Macmillan Hospice provides specialist palliative care for adults who have cancer and other life limiting illnesses, across Staffordshire and the bordering areas.

Donations can be by lodged on www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/markbridgwood

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