A UK mission — via mobility scooter

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A FORMER Guardsman who was disabled while on active service was in West Devon last week as part of a nationwide quest to photograph and catalogue war and lifeboat graves and memorials around the country.

Mark Newton, who has already been awarded the Guinness World Record for the ’longest journey on an electric mobility vehicle’ on his Tramper TWS three-wheeler scooter, visited graves and memorials in Horrabridge, Buckland Monachorum, Harrowbeer, Yelverton and Tavistock.

Mark, originally from Swansea, was serving in 1, The Queen’s Dragoon Guards in 1991 while attached to the United Nations in Cyprus, when he suffered a life-changing injury to his right leg.

In 2009 his condition had deteriorated to the point where walking was painfully difficult, so through the Soldier Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), his regiment and the Royal British Legion they provided him with a mobility scooter.

Since then he was used it to raise nearly £50,000 for military charities and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Mark, aged 49, who is travelling with his feline companions Missy and Smudge during his tour, was in Bedford Square in Tavistock last Thursday.

He said: ’I’m now photographing and cataloguing war and lifeboat graves and memorials a county at a time, I suspect I have about ten years left!

’All the images will be on my website http://www.war-graves.co.uk";>www.war-graves.co.uk and all the memorial images are being sent to the Imperial War Museum for the national archive.

’I never set a target amount, as I’m grateful for every penny and I’m pretty sure the charities are.

’My aim is to visit as many graves and memorials as I can. I know I will never get to everyone but I’ll give it a go!

There has been one point in Wiltshire where I had to photograph 910 graves in one cemetery, this took me five days! There is only so much I can do in one day before the injuries I have start to really complain!

’I’ve already found around 400 new memorials in Devon and Wiltshire alone to add to the national archive including the ones by the Knightstone tea rooms at Yelverton.

’All the memorials are important to me — especially those which are not recorded on the national archive. It’s amazing how many different types of memorials there are.’

With that, Mark, Missy and Smudge left Bedford Square to head off across the moors in the direction of Lydford and another memorial — only a few thousand to go . . .

If you would like to donate to Mark’s charities visit to his website at http://www.aroundbritain.org.uk";>www.aroundbritain.org.uk

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