A FORMER soldier is heading for the world’s hottest desert to raise £5,000 for charity In October, Matt Cobham will swap Southend beaches for the dunes of the Sahara in North Africa as he treks 100km in heat reaching nearly 40 degrees celsius while carrying a 30kg backpack.

The 42-year-old who lives in Victoria Road, Southend, will spend eight days walking across the desert with a backpack weighing just over a third of his own weight.

Mr Cobham, who was with the Royal Engineers for three years, is doing the trek in aid of UK Homes for Heroes who help former soldiers who become homeless.

He said: “I watched a documentary about James Cracknell and Ben Fogle doing the same thing and thought that is what I want to do.

“I have already started training, getting distance under my belt. The backpack is the same weight as one used by special forces.”

Before flying to Africa Mr Cobham, who now works as a helicopter pilot and is an instructor with the Shoebury Cadets, has his sights set on the next epic challenge after the Sahara – he wants to do it in the Arctic.

To sponsor him, visit bmycharity.