Trainee soldiers and Instructors of Lightning Troop, 11th (RSS) Signal Regiment, based in Blandford, have been running, cycling and swimming an equivalent distance of at least 4,000 km -the distance from their location to Mecca - throughout Ramadan, in support of one of their trainees.
The Troop regularly undertakes activities to support the lived experience of soldiers including those from different faiths. This current initiative is in support of a Muslim soldier who is undergoing training with the Troop to become a signaller.
About 100 trainee Royal Signal Soldiers from Lightning Troop, and seven members of permanent staff are getting involved to show their support in the run-up to Eid on 13 May – a very important occasion celebrated by Muslims to mark the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting.
Taking part in this challenge was a great opportunity for me to push myself mentally and physically, to cover this distance as part of a team and show support for the servicemen and women who are currently taking part in Ramadan.” Signaller Trundley
Joint organiser and instructor Corporal Kristian Rogers says: “We believe it’s important not to just accept that there are soldiers who are different faiths, but to understand what these soldiers believe, and the different events that they take part in throughout their year.
“If some events allow then it is good to get other soldiers involved to let them experience significant events in their religions,” he said.
Road to Mecca virtual pilgrimage
Physical activities, all being undertaken in spare time, symbolically measure the distance between a point at their location to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The distance has been estimated as being 4884km. The challenge is also raising funds for the Royal Signals Charity.
The most popular activity throughout event has been running, as there are so many people doing this event it has been easy for them. “It’s an easy activity that can be undertaken by any soldiers,” said Corporal Rogers (25).
“We have many Queens Gurkha Signals soldiers undergoing Initial Trade Training in our Troop and some of them can run incredible distances.”
Individual distances are collated to keep a tally on total distance completed. Half-way through Ramadan, which began on 12 Apr, a distance more than 4000km had already been completed.
By the end of the challenge the group had completed 581 activities, totalling 5888.62km.
Signaller Trundley, who took part, said: “Taking part in this challenge was a great opportunity for me to push myself mentally and physically, to cover this distance as part of a team, to raise money for the Royal Signals Charity and show support for the servicemen and women who are currently taking part in Ramadan.”
Supporting multi-faith colleagues
Fellow organiser Corporal Kieran Sullivan (35) is the Regimental Inclusion Councils Religious Representative and he keeps the regiment up to date with major events that are taking place throughout the year. He gets soldiers from the same faith together, any anyone else who is interested in expanding their knowledge, to make sure that the needs of the soldiers are being met and they can practice their faith.
Corporal Rogers says: “Our Muslim soldiers here at Blandford will be celebrating Eid with friends and family. With the current climate this will be done via Zoom or Teams, which all serving personnel are happy with.
“To support them I will do my upmost to ensure that they get every provision necessary to enable them to conduct this religious event the best way possible.”
Trainee Signaller Griffiths is very happy with how the regiment have ensured his needs are met during the holy month of Ramadan. He is very keen to help others and is really taken by the idea of the Road to Mecca virtual pilgrimage.
This challenge means a lot to him, as the efforts of those taking part recognise his own self-sacrifice, discipline and commitment to his religion.