BUSINESSES in the region have rallied round Hampshire’s own Dad’s Army which is embarking on a sponsored walk taking in all five Normandy beaches to commemorate the D-Day landings.

With a combined age of more than 700, the 12 men will be setting out on a “Walk in the Footsteps of Heroes” on May 2.

The four-day march will raise funds for the Southampton-based multiple sclerosis charity, The Geoff Smith Foundation, and Help for Heroes, based in Salisbury.

The event is being sponsored by Hendy Ford Transit Centre in Chandler’s Ford which is supplying a Ford Transit mini-bus.

Mark Busby, Hendy’s Group's marketing director, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this brilliant endeavour and these two really worthwhile charities. I know the guys have been undertaking a strict training regime and I’m very confident they will achieve their objectives.”

The roll call of other sponsors includes HP Contracts, K A Watts, Lee Peck Media, Sakks Menswear, Chandler’s Ford Car Centre, Positive Solutions, Hire It, Countryside Retreats, Dansak, and Storage on Site.

The group, all but two of which are in their 60ssixties, will start at Pegasus Bridge, which was captured by British airborne troops in the opening minutes of the Normandy invasion.

The walk will end with the laying of a wreath at the Free French Monument at Sword Beach. Wreaths will also be laid at Utah, Omaha, Gold and Juno beaches along the way.

MS sufferer Geoff Smith, who started the foundation which bears his name, has organised the walk and will be accompanying the group as an observer and '12th man'.

Geoff said: “A heartfelt thanks goes out to all our sponsors for their generosity and my friends who will be taking part in this physically demanding exercise. Not only that but it will be a very emotional experience as we reflect on the enormous sacrifices that were made to preserve our way of life.”

Also taking part in the walk are Laurence Ross, Dave Turpin, Lee Peck, Leighton Moat, John Smith, Tony Frost, Pete Vickery, Mark Bulley, Les Broughton, Mick Earls and Mike Cowie.

Readers can donate on The Geoff Smith Foundation Just Giving site, or visit: