THE father of a young soldier who drowned as he tried to cross a swollen river has pledged to hitch-hike round the UK within a week to help raise cash for the rescue team which tried to save his son.

The Swaledale Fell Rescue Organisation helped search for Ben Clarke, who was swept away as he attempted to cross the River Swale in November, 1995.

Tragically, there was nothing they could do for the 17-year-old, who was on his way home after a night out with his father when he died.

Now his father Ray, who survived after he was washed onto an islet in the middle of the river, has confirmed that he will travel the length of the UK, setting off from outside RAF Coltishall, in Norfolk, on October 6.

His route in memory of his son will take him from Norfolk via Land's End, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to John O'Groats.

Ray, a careers advisor, has already raised £400 in sponsorship and aims to collect £4,000 which will go towards replacing the organisation's radio system.

Rescue leader Paul Denning said: "We are very grateful to Ray for remembering us and hope he completes his challenge successfully."

Supporters wishing to donate should send money to fell rescue team fundraising officer, Mike Pinchin, at 27 West Road, Melsonby, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 5ND.

Cheques should be made payable to Swaledale Fell Rescue Organisation.