A FORMER soldier from Whitefield is set to face his biggest challenge in 20 years in an ambitious charity trek.

Grahame Albinson, aged 55, was in the armed forces for 16 years, becoming a lance corporal in the Royal Corps of Transport.

One of his duties was protecting and chauffeuring members of the royal family and high-ranking service officials.

When Grahame left the army, he encountered problems with alcohol abuse and suffered from stress related to his time serving in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands.

He ended up in prison for harassing an ex-girlfriend, but managed to turn his life around with the aid of charity helpers.

Now, the reformed father-of-five, who has five grandchildren, is hoping to give something back by walking 46 miles in one day in aid of the Combat Stress charity.

Grahame will walk from Blackpool Football Club to Flixton on May 10 with a group of 11 walkers, including Marsha Franks, of Magnum Whiteline Taxis, Prestwich, who is donating half of her sponsorship cash to Combat Stress and half to the Frost Foundation which helps struggling families in Manchester.

Grahame said: “When I was younger, I managed to run long distances in Cyprus, but that was when I was much fitter and in much better shape, but walking that distance now will be the biggest challenge I’ve faced in 20 years.”

Grahame left the Army at the age of 32 and is now communications director at La Capannina Restaurant in Sunnybank Road, Unsworth.

He said: “The fact that I’m doing it for such a great cause will spur me on.

“Many people don’t realise that when people leave the Forces, some suffer psychological problems and require a long-term approach to help them and Combat Stress does that well.

“I was lucky that I got the help that I needed.”

Grahame, of Dale Street, is aiming to raise £3,000 in sponsorship and will carry a bucket along the route for donations.

  • To sponsor Grahame, go here.