Veterans all set for fundraising cycle relay from John O’Groats to Land’s End
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Dozens of cyclists are gearing up for a relay ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End in support of Help for Heroes.
Four of the more than 50 cyclists taking part will ride the whole distance, paying their respects to the fallen en route, while others will join in along the way to help carry a wooden baton.
Organised by former soldier John Burns – a long-term supporter and fundraiser for the armed forces charity – the Hero JOGLE Relay departs from John O’Groats on Saturday, August 28, with a stop at Dunbeath war memorial before leaving Caithness.
The cyclists are due to arrive in Land’s End around three weeks later after a journey of almost 1300 miles.
They intend to visit several prominent military sites in England, including the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall, the RAF cemetery at Hornchurch and the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.
John explained: “It’s really two rides in one. Four of us – each of whom is a veteran – will ride each day and cover 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 John, 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.
John added: “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 Hero 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 British Western Front in World War I. And we’re still accepting volunteers for that.”
To find out more about the Hero JOGLE Relay, or to donate, visit herojoglerelay.bike