A GROUP of mostly injured soldiers have set off on a gruelling race in Peru today.

The Race2Recovery team are raising money for Forces charities and hoping to become the first ever disability team to complete the world’s toughest race, the Dakar Rally.

The team includes two Wiltshire soldiers. Corporal Gareth Paterson, a veteran of Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Afghanistan who lives in Tidworth, who became involved to give back to the charities that helped him and his wife Nikki when she was paralysed after a motorbike accident, and Major (Retd) John Winskill, who lives in Durrington and served as an infantry officer from 1993 to 2006.

Major Winskill will be supplying critical support during the rally.

Corporal Paterson said: “I’m so proud to be part of such an inspirational team. To be here in Peru for such a massive race feels unbelievable.

“We’ve been on such a journey as a team and I’m delighted that along the way we’ve been able to raise money for Tedworth House and also inspire people who may be injured, sick or facing adversity.”

The team’s four Wildcat race vehicles set off from Lima this morning, signalling the start of 15 days of racing 9,000km over extreme mountain and desert terrain through Peru, Argentina and Chile.

A host of celebrities have been showing their support for the team and its fundraising efforts on social networks including Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio, athlete Dame Kelly Holmes, presenter Lorrain Kelly, singer Robbie Williams and presenter Carol Vorderman.

They are raising money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and donations can be made at race2recovery.com, where you can also follow the team’s progress.