A LINWOOD youngster has got off to a cracking start in a virtual codebreaking challenge to raise funds for veterans and their families.

Matthew McDonald, 11, is taking part in Operation Bletchley, which involves walking or running either 50 or 100 miles during the month of July.

The challenge has been organised by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, formally known as the Army Benevolent Fund, which has provided Matthew with a series of cryptic codes to solve at various points on his journey.

After initially setting himself the 50-mile target – a virtual mission from Bletchley Park to the Cabinet Rooms in London – Matthew achieved his goal in eight days.

The determined schoolboy, who is a member of the 15th Paisley Boys’ Brigade, then signed up to complete the 100-mile Paris mission, deciphering a new series of puzzles along the way.

Matthew said: “I really enjoy doing the walks to raise money for The Soldiers’ Charity. I like that, after each five or 10 miles, I get a fun code to crack.

“I managed 50 miles last year but, this year, I’m going to reach 150.

“Some of the codes are really challenging but I have fun solving them.”

To make up his miles, Matthew has been volunteering for community organisation Toddle Tots by looking after the Linwood Fairy Trail, near the Black Cart Water.

He checks the route several times each week and replaces any vandalised items with new ones he’s created. His six-year-old sister Ivy has also been helping by clearing the path.

Matthew hopes to reach his fundraising goal of £250 by the end of this week, at which point he will have walked a total of at least 150 miles and cracked 22 codes.

To show your support for his fundraising efforts, make a donation online at operationbletchley-50miles.everydayhero.com/uk/matthew.

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