CYCLISTS participating in a fundraising relay ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End in support of Salisbury-based Armed Forces charity Help for Heroes, paid their respects at Downton Memorial Hall as part of their tribute to the fallen.
They were joined there by the charity’s co-founders Bryn and Emma Parry, who then continued to ride with the group for the remainder of the day, and riders from the Royal Military Police, in Bulford.
Overall, more than 50 cyclists are participating in the ride, with four riding the whole distance, as the route meanders its way down the length of Great Britain, while others will join in along the way to help carry a wooden baton for a journey estimated at just shy of 1,300 miles.
The relay, organised by former soldier John Burns – a long-term supporter and fundraiser for the Charity – departed from John O’Groats on 28 August and is scheduled to arrive in Land’s End later this week.
On its way, the team of riders has deviated from the ‘normal’ route, to visit several prominent military sites, including the National Memorial Arboretum, at Alrewas, Staffordshire; the Cenotaph, in Whitehall; the RAF cemetery in Hornchurch, Essex, and the Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.
“It’s really two rides in one. Four of us – each of whom is a veteran – are riding each day and covering the whole distance, while another 50-odd cyclists have volunteered to join us day by day to carry the baton which has been crafted by Veterans Woodcraft, in Richmond, Yorkshire.
“Many of that cohort are veterans themselves, with some having benefited from the support provided by Help for Heroes, so they know how important the charity is.
“We’re taking a somewhat circuitous route because we felt it was important for us to pay our respects to our forebears who made the ultimate sacrifice. Riding the extra 400-odd miles on our route is a small price to pay by comparison.”
The four cyclists travelling the full distance are 47-year-old Burns, from Upminster, London, who was a chef in the Army; former RAF engineer and Warrior Games competitor Jon Knott, 52, from Doncaster – whose first recumbent bike was funded by Help for Heroes; retiree Tony Bagnall, 68, from Newcastle upon Tyne, who served in the RAF for nearly 24 years; and 64-year-old battlefield guide and former military policeman Dudley Giles, from Newark.
“I ride every year with Help for Heroes’ Big Battlefield Bike Ride (BBBR) to help raise funds, but we haven’t been able to do that in 2020 or 2021 because of Covid and I’ve missed it. So, wanting to do something, I just developed the seed of a relay idea from a friend, extended the distance slightly, and created what we’ve called the JOGLE Relay.
“Once we’ve done this, I’ll turn my attention to the planning for next year’s BBBR which is taking in the whole of the WWI British Western Front. And we’re still accepting volunteers for that!”
Help for Heroes believes those who serve our country deserve support when they’re wounded. Every day, men and women have to leave their career in the Armed Forces as a result of physical or psychological wounds. The Charity helps them, and their families, to recover and get on with their lives. It has already supported more than 26,500 people and won’t stop until every wounded veteran gets the support they deserve.
To discover more about the Hero JOGLE Relay or to donate, visit herojoglerelay.bike. If you fancy undertaking a fundraiser for Help for Heroes, please register here: https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/fundraise/register-your-own-fundraiser/ and the charity will send you a free fundraising pack full of tips to make your effort a success.