Code-cracking war hero inspires grandson to tackle extreme fitness challenge to aid dementia research

Code-cracking war hero inspires grandson to tackle extreme fitness challenge to aid dementia research

by Danielle Thompson (July 2021)

A CODE-CRACKING hero who sent vital information to British agents working behind enemy lines during the Second World War has inspired his grandson to tackle an extreme fitness challenge and raise funds for research into dementia.

Formby teacher Ed Brindley will swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles then run a 26.2 mile marathon, all in just one day, in a challenging triathlon.

He’s aiming to raise at least £1,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, as his beloved grandfather Charles suffered from dementia in his final years before he passed away in  July 2007 aged 80.

The 29-year-old was part of the Alzheimer’s Research UK fund-raising team taking part in the Outlaw Triathlon at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham, on July 25.

The event started at sunrise with a swim, followed by the bike ride across Nottinghamshire and then the race around the city centre.

Ed grew up unaware that during the war Charles was a Royal Signalman linked to Bletchley Park, home to the Colossus and Enigma machines.

Charles was picked to join the elite Special Communications Unit Number 1 at Whaddon Hall, Bletchley - HQ for MI6's section VIII operations during the war and the forerunner of today’s secret service.

He was responsible for supplying crucial details on German strategy to Allied commanders and agents in the field.

Code-named Ultra, the information was credited as helping to end the conflict early.

Charles later served in Palestine, probably transmitting secret encoded signals using morse code.

After being demobbed he worked in Preston for the English Electricity Company, which made electrical equipment, before returning to his home town of Blackpool where he became head of security at Blackpool Winter Gardens, Opera House and Tower in the 1970s and 80s.

He was responsible for shielding stars of the day from over-zealous fans plus protecting politicians from potential IRA attacks.

Ed, who teaches PE at Formby High School, is a veteran of marathons and triathlons, and wanted to set himself a new challenge and decided to enter the Outlaw triathlon and was delighted when Alzheimer’s Research UK, an official partner for the event, accepted him onto its fund-raising team.

Ed is already more than halfway to his £1,000 target thanks to donations from friends and family - including £100 from his mum’s cousins in memory of their own mother who had dementia and served in the Forces in the 1940s.

Ed trained as a teacher at Edge Hill University after gaining his degree followed by a master’s in sports science at Chester University. He has taken part in other triathlons and marathons in the UK and in New Zealand where he worked as a teaching assistant.

He has completed 200 miles of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim’s walk from Spain to France through the Pyrenees with his partner Alice McCoy, a speech therapist in Southport, his dad and step-mum Caroline. They were inspired to follow in the footsteps of their 13th century Cheshire ancestor, John de Brundelegh or Brindley, an archer, who was asked to join the Black Prince, Earl of Chester, on his expedition into Spain in 1367. The Black Prince’s army followed the ancient pilgrim route over the Pyrenees. They fought the battle of Najera alongside Pedro the cruel against Pedro’s half-brother, Henry of Trastamara, whom they defeated. It is likely that John Brindley, an archer who was also an abbey clerk, undertook the pilgrimage after the battle before returning home to England. Edward, the Black Prince later awarded him the honour of Keeper of Beeston Castle in Cheshire and administrator of the St. Pierre lands surrounding the castle. These positions were usually given for good service overseas.

Ed’s JustGiving page for his Outlaw Triathlon Challenge in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK is at

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