TWO police officers from Andover have taken on a gruelling 25-miles challenge to raise funds to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town. 

On July 2, Sergeants Jeremy Hayward and Stu Harris faced the Man vs Coast challenge, which saw the pair start in Penzance and take on a mix of swimming, running, climbing and scrambling, finishing at Land’s End.

Sgt Hayward said: “About 18 months ago, I messaged [Stu]. I wanted to do something like SAS: Who Dares Wins, but I was too old for that. He went away and got back to me with the Man Vs Coast plan.” 

Andover Advertiser: Credit: mybibnumber/Jeremy HaywardCredit: mybibnumber/Jeremy Hayward

“I’m not the strongest in the water, far less open water. I’d never run more than 10km. So I had to do a lot of training.”

The officers were aiming to raise awareness and funds for two causes: PTSD999, which offers support to emergency service workers who are suffering with post-traumatic stress, and the Yellow Brick Road project, a charity working with young people in Andover to help them overcome trauma. 

Police have been working closely with the organisation to find “proactive not reactive” ways to deal with rising anti-social behaviour. In April, Hampshire Constabulary announced the launch of Operation Solar, a scheme aimed at tackling the problem.

SEE ALSO: 'Tackling anti-social behaviour remains one of our priorities': Police operation launched to crackdown on trouble in Andover town centre

Sgt Hayward, who has been in the police force for 22 years, continued: “Along with a PCSO, I am in charge of Operation Solar, and instead of just telling the kids to go away, we wanted to set up a kind of solution for them as well.” 

They have organised Duke of Edinburgh Award taster sessions, where young people can go along and take part in a range of activities.

“But it all costs money,” said Sgt Hayward.. “So we hoped some of this could go towards those sessions, and potentially supporting a couple of the children to go through the Duke of Edinburgh award itself.”

The 52-year-old continued: “Police don’t always have the best image, but if they can see what we are wanting to do for them, it might just help break those barriers.”

Andover Advertiser: Credit: mybibnumber/Jeremy HaywardCredit: mybibnumber/Jeremy Hayward

Sgt Hayward added: “I think it’s a post-Covid thing. Now is the time to try and get them on board, give them a positive experience and say ‘we do believe in you, we do trust you’. 

“The town means a lot to me, I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s not just a local problem but, for some of these youngsters, all they need is opportunity. That’s the absolute least we can do.”

So far, they have raised more than £700 - smashing their initial £500 target. 

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