A 96-year-old war hero is climbing 1,000 steps to raise funds for charity.

Flight Lieutenant Des Curtis is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Captain Tom Moore by scaling the five storeys of his block of flats in Bournemouth every day until he achieves the milestone.

The RAF veteran tackles the 80 steps in one go, even though this leaves him 'out of puff' by the time he reaches the top floor.

Des began his fundraising effort on April 25 and has already climbed over 800 steps. He hopes to complete his challenge by VE Day on May 8.

He has set himself a fundraising target of £4,000 for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, which he has volunteered for for the past three years.

He has raised £500 to date.

On VE Day, he will climb the steps twice in memory of his friends who were killed in the war.

Des survived 70 operational sorties in World War Two and was a navigator in a Mosquito bomber that sunk a German U-boat off France in March 1944.

He later became unlikely friends with Raimond Teisler, the German commander of the submarine,

Des was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and later immortalised on the front page of the boy's own adventure magazine 'Victor'.

He is believed to be the last surviving member of 618 Squadron, who were closely linked to the legendary 617 'Dambusters' Squadron.

Des said: "I'm an energetic supporter of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and for the past three years have volunteered to go around and do talks for them.

"That is not possible at the moment so I wanted to think about another way to support them.

"I can't walk any great distance particularly on the uneven pavement around here so my exercise is climbing stairs.

"I live in a block of five storeys with 80 stairs so I've set myself the challenge to do all 80 once a day.

"I do them all at once, otherwise it would not be a challenge.

"It takes me about five minutes and I'm out of puff by the end, but I'm determined to keep going until I reach 1,000.

"On VE Day I will do the stairs twice to remember my colleagues who didn't come back from the war.

"I was the lucky one (to survive) so it will be my way to pay my respects to them."

Des said he had been 'amazed' watching the Herculean fundraising efforts of Captain Tom who has raised £32million for the NHS by doing laps of his garden.

He said: "I thought it was amazing how what started as a simple endeavour by him turned into such a wonderful extravaganza and raised so much money. Good on him.

"I've set the target of £4,000 as this is how much it costs the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance to carry out one mission.

"I hope people will support a most worthy cause."

The son of a soldier, Flt Lt Curtis was born in Caterham, Surrey, in 1923.

He worked as a bank clerk before enlisting in the RAF as an 18 year old in 1941.

After undertaking navigator training in Canada, he was posted to 235 Squadron, flying 11 sorties to the Norwegian coast to do reconnaissance work and escort torpedo bombers attacking shipping convoys.

Subsequently, he was selected for the newly formed 618 Squadron, training alongside the 'Dambusters' at RAF Skitten in north Scotland.

His DFC citation reads: "Flt Lt Curtis has taken part in many sorties where an exceptionally high standard of accurate navigation has been required and he has invariably located his objective, frequently in the face of very bad weather and darkness over the first two hours of many sorties."

Following the war, Des trained as an accountant and worked in the petroleum industry.

He is a widower and has two children, Peter and Shiela, and two grandchildren, Laura and Ben.

To support his fundraising efforts, go to www.dsairambulance.org.uk/fundraisers and type in Des.