ARMED forces personnel from all over the country will be converging on Malvern tomorrow (Saturday) for the second annual Coltman Stretcher Carry race.

About 150 soldiers, sailors and airmen will be taking part in the gruelling ten-mile race, starting in the town centre and

taking in some of the major peaks on the Malvern Hills, to raise money for the British Legion.

The event starts in the grounds of Malvern Library, Graham Road. Mayor Julian Roskams and organisers of the armed forces week will welcome the contestants before the race starts at 11am.

Event organiser Susan Buxton said: "Last year's inaugural running of the stretcher carry had seven teams and raised £2,500. This year we have seventeen military teams, coming from as far afield as Catterick, Plymouth and Belfast, and hope to raise over £6,000 for the British Legion Poppy Appeal. The route is pretty gruelling, and I hope everyone who sees them on their way will give them a big cheer."

Nick Martin, community fundraiser for the British Legion in Worcestershire, said: “This is a fantastic community event. We are so grateful to the teams who take part and fundraise for the Poppy Appeal. We would also like to thank the Malvern Hills Conservators, the district council, the mayor and volunteers from the Jesus Christ Church of the Latter Day saints who all make this event possible.”

The Coltman Stretcher Carry is named after the most highly decorated British ordinary soldier, lance-corporal Bill Coltman, a stretcher-bearer in World War One. His strict Christian beliefs prevented him from carrying weapons, but he risked his life at the front many times to bring in wounded comrades.

Among his decorations were the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar, Military Medal and Bar, and the Croix de Guerre.

Mr Martin said: "The modern-day stretcher bearers or more properly, combat med techs, go out under fire and treat casualties with the same spirit and selflessness of Bill Coltman. These young men and women, sometimes only months out of training, are part of the medical operation that enables 25 per cent more casualties to survive serious injury than ten years ago."