After five gruelling days, this afternoon, 270 cyclists made their final ride along the promenade in Dunkirk to complete the 350 mile Help for Heroes, 2012 Big Battlefield Bike Ride. Saddle sore and exhausted, the weary cyclists were saluted by Spitfire flypast before taking part in the final “Memorial de Souvenir” ceremony on Dunkirk Beach having raised over £400,000, every penny of which will go towards helping wounded service personnel. Today marks the end of a week where 34 wounded, injured and recovering servicemen from Britain and Canada, together with 226 fundraisers, embarked on the 2012 Big Battlefield Bike Ride through the Somme Battlefields of World War 1 and 2 on their journey to Dunkirk.
Six wounded soldiers from Britain have cycled the route on hand bikes, including a team in training for their upcoming Race Across America (RAAM). A team which managed to finish ahead of the rest of the field on at least one day, and found the hills to be ‘mere undulations’! The ride was joined by 25 Canadian Wounded Warriors, who have added extra humour, dignity and a fantastic team spirit to the Big Battlefield Bike Ride.
“That such a large crowd of people have cycled together, raising funds for Help for Heroes, is truly inspirational” says Bryn Parry, CEO and Co-Founder of Help for Heroes. “We are all here for one reason alone, and that is to support our wounded heroes on their road to recovery. We are very privileged to be cycling alongside some recovering wounded from both Britain and Canada, but we must remember that there are some for whom even getting up in the morning is a daily challenge. It is our duty to help them all.”
The cyclists have attended ceremonies at key memorial sites, including Menin Gate, Vimy Ridge and Thiepval where wreaths have been laid and they have taken time to remember those who have lost their lives fighting for our country. Speaking at Dunkirk, cyclist Annie Bowman says: “What an emotional experience. Cycling alongside guys who have overcome great adversity and are able to participate in such a gruelling event speaks volumes about the work that Help for Heroes does and is a constant reminder as to why we must keep supporting them. The team spirit of the whole ride was second to none; and the humour and sheer determination got me, and a few others I’m sure, up some of those hills! This is one bike ride which I shall never forget and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to ‘do their bit’ for the charity.”
The Big Battlefield Bike Ride was the inaugural event for the charity, first held in 2008. It launched the Charity’s profile when the co-founders Bryn and Emma Parry cycled around battlefields with friends in order to raise money for the Headley Court Rehabilitation Complex. Five years later, the Charity has raised over £135 million to provide support for our wounded; for life. Every penny raised has been spent on large capital builds including the development of five Personnel Recovery Centres across the UK, as well as helping individuals directly, though the Quick Reaction Fund. To date, the 2012 Big Battlefield Bike Ride has raised over £400,000 which will go to provide direct and practical support to servicemen and women who are wounded, injured or become sick while serving our country.
If you’ve been inspired to ‘do your bit’ please visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk.
Help for Heroes
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Downton Business Centre