TIDWORTH army padre Mark Christian waved goodbye to the chips and pizza last week when he took on a hefty challenge in aid of a forces charity and a local village church.

Padre Christian, who ministers to 43 Wessex Brigade, is undertaking the challenge Pound for Pound, whereby he hopes that for every pound in weight he loses, he will be sponsored with a pound in money.

He aims to lose an average of three pounds a weeks between now and December and if successful, that would mean he will have shed a whopping 75 pounds. The padre attended a weigh-in at The Bell Inn in Winterbourne Stoke where, surrounded by supporters, he was weighed and his blood pressure taken by Lieutenant Colonel Kam Kahn of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who served with Padre Christian in Afghanistan in 2011.

Doctor Kahn said: “It’s an awful lot to take on but Mark is very focused on it. He has got a good plan and a lot of good people behind him. He is combining a sensible diet with some regular moderate exercise.”

Padre Christian, who has served in the role for 17 years and is soon to leave the army, is raising the money for two causes close to his heart. Firstly, The Royal British Legion and secondly, for the ancient little Church of St Peter’s in Winterbourne Stoke, where he conducts services twice a month as a volunteer.

“Because I am now ending one part of my life, which is military, and moving to another, which is civil, I thought it would be good to split the money between both a military and a civilian charity,” he said.

“I hope it will afford me the opportunity to go back into civilian ministry and I really hope it is somewhere in Wiltshire. My children have settled here and I now have grandchildren here, to minister in a little parish somewhere in Wiltshire - that’s the hope.”