“Lanyard is a great competition, and I was hugely impressed with the commitment of everyone who took part whether male, female, Reserve or Regular. Well done to all the winners!" Col Jason Gunning, Colonel of the Royal Corps of Signals
In 1979, Pete Richards, a Royal Signals Officer from 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron designed a competition that would challenge his comrades. It consisted of a 40-mile race over the South Downs carrying 40lbs of weight in combat clothing, open to teams of eight people, all serving in the Royal Signals. Named after the lanyard that soldiers from the 216 Sqn made from the cords of their parachutes, it has huge historical significance.
Forty years on, the now retired Lt Col Pete Richards returned to the Lanyard Trophy, again hosted by 216 Squadron, but this time held on Dartmoor. Since its inception, it has become a hugely important annual event for the Royal Signals, where teams of eight people from both Regular and Reserve units compete for the Female, Mixed, Veteran and Overall trophies.
In spite of the bitterly cold but bright weather, and an early 4 am start, 36 teams set off in good spirits. 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron took the early lead, however, by Checkpoint 2, 14 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) had moved into pole position, which they held to the end. They crossed the line in a time of 9 hours 41 minutes having beaten their nearest competitor, 63 Signal Sqn by 40 minutes. All was not lost for 63 Sig Sqn who secured the Saxon Trophy (for the first team to finish with all its members), and the Reserve Trophy, a huge accomplishment for Army Reservists who have balanced military training around their civilian jobs. 63 also fielded the Reserve runners-up team.
The Mixed winners were 11 Signal Regiment who finished in a time of 12 hours 20 minutes, followed 21 minutes later by 14 Signals Regiment (Mixed Team). Showing that it's not just a young persons event, the Veteran winners (all over 35-years-old) were 30 Signal Regiment in a time of 12 hours 51. The female competition was won by 30 Signal Regiment.