POLICE officers from Swindon fought off the competition to complete the Three Peaks challenge in record time last month.

Raising money in memory of former colleague Mike ‘Fatboy’ Lawless for a children’s cancer charity, the team of officers climbed three mountains in three countries in less than 24 hours to raise money in memory of a former colleague.

Signing up to the 42nd National Fire Service sub-24hr Three Peaks Challenge, the team, consisting of Insp Paul Saunders, Sgt Neil Bott, Sgt Loz Copeland, PC Rich Fay, PC Mike Diffin MBE and Detention Officer Andy French, retained the fastest British Police Team trophy which they won in 2013.

The team climbed Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in the Lake District and Mount Snowdon in Wales in 18 hours and 42 minutes, smashing last year’s record of 23 hours and five minutes.

Inspector Saunders, of the town centre policing team, said “It was a first for all of us last year and we were pleased to get under 24hrs, but we had a sense that with a little more preparation and the experience of doing it before we would be able to go a little quicker.

“Our thought was that we might be able to manage under 22 hours, which would have been a silver medal time and very respectable indeed. However, we reached the summit of Ben Nevis in 1 hour and 58 minutes, which was a whole hour quicker than last year and we were down in a total of 3 hours and 28 minutes, which knocked 1 hour and 28 minutes off last year’s time for that mountain. At this point we thought a sub-20hr time could be on the cards.

“It was a massive effort by all in the team. We stuck together on each mountain and had an excellent support crew in Mike and Andy. We are really pleased with the time we put in and don’t think any of us could have given any more or gone any quicker. This was definitely at the limit for all of us.”

For the second year running the team were raising money for Fatboy’s Children’s Cancer Charity, and came away with £1,134.

The charity was set up by colleagues in memory of Mike, a serving police officer in Swindon who died in 1999 aged 31. He had previously been a nurse and had worked at Guy’s Hospital in London.

Insp Saunders said: “ Fatboy’s in the main aims to help children who are suffering from cancer or who have some other life threatening illness. They also make donations to other charities working in similar fields to them.

“The main thrust of the charity is geared towards the purchase of Christmas gifts for children who are suffering with cancer and other potentially life threatening illnesses.

“Each year they make a Santa Trip to the women’s refuge in Swindon which provides shelter to mothers and children escaping from abusive relationships. We are really pleased to have raised £1134 for Fatboy’s as a result of this year’s challenge and would like to thank everyone who has donated.”