THE chauffeur to the Duke of Wellington will take part in a rally supporting former British servicemen.

Richard Phillips, 72, will take on the Rally for Heroes, driving his Mercedes C-Class 3,000 miles around Europe with his friend Martin Smith.

The event will raise money for the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA), the UK’s oldest military charity.

The grandfather-of-11 said the Duchess, who died three years ago, is his “driving force” for taking on the challenge.

Mr Phillips said: “Her main charity was SSAFA and I drove her to several SSAFA meetings over the years.

“When I saw this Rally for Heroes, I thought of my connection with the Duchess, and I thought I had to do it.”

He added that the Wellington family have provided “a fair chunk” of the £3,200 he has raised so far.

“They have supported me so well in what I am doing,” he said.

Taking place over eight days, the rally will involve around 50 cars travelling through 11 countries, including Austria, Belgium and Germany.

The route will include several mountain passes, such as the Stelvio Pass on the Italy/ Switzerland border, which has around 60 hairpin bends.

It started lasat Friday at Dunsfold Aerodrome, in Surrey, the home of the BBC car programme Top Gear.

Mr Phillips, who lives on the Duke’s Stratfield Saye estate, said: “I am looking forward to it but with trepidation.

“There are quite a lot of mountain passes and that’s why you really need two drivers.”

To sponsor Mr Phillips, visit uk.virginmoney