Two servicemen, one of whom is the UK's strongest disabled man, have today (December 27) begun a 24 hour deadlift challenge in an effort to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Sportingforce Recovery and Wellness in Darlington is home for Army veteran Mark Tonner and current Army chef Ralph King for the next 24 hours from 11am as they complete five deadlifts of 100kg every five minutes.

The duo, who hail from Catterick and Bedale have taken on the challenge with 11 other people in real time from Reading, Swansea and Ireland who are aiming to achieve the same feat. 

The Northern Echo: Army veteran and the UK's strongest disabled man Mark Tonner.Army veteran and the UK's strongest disabled man Mark Tonner. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The streams have all been made publicly viewable on YouTube and Instagram, giving those who cannot be there in person an opportunity to support the challenge.

This is Mark's second year of the challenge after he lifted an astounding 76,000kg in 24 hours in January 2022. This year retained his title of the UK's strongest disabled man for the fourth year running.

He served for 15 years in the Army before discharge in 2014. 

The Northern Echo: Ralph King and Mark Tonner.Ralph King and Mark Tonner. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Mark said: "This event is for us to do something that everyone can see that will raise a lot of awareness for suicide prevention. 

"We have all been affected by it, and being ex-forces we have witnessed things happen.

"By doing this we keep people aware of it and make sure it's at the front of their mind. This event is a big thing for me. If I can help one person that is at least another person helped."

Before the 24 hour event kicked off, Mark said: "I feel good, I think Ralph is a little bit nervous though."

This year is Ralph's first attempt at the challenge. He has served for the last 16 years in the Army, and has only recently returned from service in Kenya.

Their chosen charity for the stream is Ripple - a browser extension that automatically promotes mental health organisations in response to search history relating to suicide.

The Northern Echo: Army chef Ralph King.Army chef Ralph King. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)


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Veteran support officer at Sportingforce, Sarah Jayne-Bazan, is just one of many volunteers who has taken time out of her day to support Ralph and Mark in their endeavours.

"This is exactly what we are here for - we are here to support veterans in their transition and recovery and the gym has very much proven that it's needed for mental health and socialisation.

"We cater for any and all veterans who wish to take on a challenge and we've done it many times before.

"So, when Mark asked to use our facilities for this it was a no-brainer. He's been a part of the organisation for years and given us so much support."

The pair will now continue their reps until 11am tomorrow (December 28). To support the fundraiser, click here.