On Saturday night (4th May), Andover business owner Andreas Beirne completed his gruelling week-long 456km Big Barrel Run and was greeted with a well-deserved hero’s welcome in Salisbury City Centre.
A crowd of almost 100 hundred people, including The Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Mike Osment, and Leader of the Council, Cllr Jeremy Nettle, gathered outside the Guildhall to cheer him over the finish line and to celebrate this quite remarkable achievement. As he crossed the line the relief and realisation of what he had accomplished began to sink in and he needed a moment or two to compose himself before being greeted by his girlfriend Amy Jenkins, his support crew and other well-wishers.
The Big Barrel Run began at the London Marathon where Andreas completed 14 miles before joining the other 40,000 runners for the iconic race. Over the following six days he ran the equivalent of 11 marathons with a 2st/13kg barrel on his back. Andreas set himself the challenge of running 456km in memory of the 456 service men and women who lost their lives during Operation Herrick in Afghanistan and to raise funds and awareness for Combat Stress.
Combat Stress and their work to support veterans are very close to Andreas’ heart as he was formerly a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Logistics Corps and was attached to the Queens Gurkha Logistics for over seven years. During this time, he took part in operational tours in both Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands.
He set himself the ambitious target of raising £20,000 for the charity and he was totally delighted to smash through this thanks to the kindness of over 1,000 supporters as well as the generosity of local Andover business Vernham Labels and Bootcamp UK Andover.
After finishing his challenge Andreas Beirne commented “This week has been a real rollercoaster – there have been some incredible highs and some very low lows. I had some really dark moments, moments where I honestly didn’t think I could go on and that I had pushed my body as far as it could go. But it was then that my support crew stepped in, picked me up, strapped me up and gave me the encouragement and motivation to keep going.
“I will never forget the moment I came around the corner into the Market Square in Salisbury and saw, and heard, all the people cheering me home including a number from my Bootcamp in Andover. It made all the planning, logistics, training, blisters, sore muscles and kilometres worth it. I don’t mind saying that I even shed a tear or two as I crossed the finish line. It is a memory I will treasure forever.
“Apart from the birth of my daughter, this had been the greatest week of my life and probably the toughest. Words cannot describe the immense gratitude I feel to my support crew and everyone who donated to my challenge. It was because of everyone’s belief in me that I made it to the end. I am simply blown away by people’s generosity, I never dreamed we would smash the fundraising target. The money will enable Combat Stress to transform the lives of veterans who are in desperate need of their help. From the bottom of my little barrel heart – thank you!”
There is still time to sponsor Andreas and The Big Barrel Run via his JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thebigbarrelrun