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Karting for Heroes

Congratulations to Bing Digital, this year’s winners of Karting for Heroes. Second place went to Medway Bridge Marina 2 and third was Vanquish Motorsport.

This year’s event was the best attended with 29 teams lined up on the grid and starting positions decided by "Bids for Pole" with the most generous team getting pole position which in total raised an additional £900+ towards the final amount for the day. This year’s K4H was very wet and proved to be an interesting race indeed.

As the event progressed the blue skies appeared and the optimism rose with many expecting the track to dry out and speeds to increase accordingly. It did, but only for a few minutes as the next splash of rain descended on Buckmore.

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K4H ‘14 was honoured this year to have a team from Mission Motorsport, who are supported by Help for Heroes. In addition, thanks to Montrose Media, many of the teams and drivers were interviewed for this year’s forthcoming K4H video which will be published soon on the K4H website.

Race Director Matt said after the race "Despite the conditions there were only 3 black flags for the teams and considering the conditions the drivers behaved admirably and it was an easy race to direct."

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As we closed the fifth running of Karting for Heroes it was fitting that Sue Pattenden from Mission Motorsport should present the trophies to the top three teams. As Charity Coordinator for Mission Motorsport, Sue has first-hand knowledge of how Help for Heroes makes a difference with the support of events like ours. To conclude the evening many of the teams and their supporters stayed behind for the K4H Auction and thanks to their generosity they added another £1700 to the total we raised on the day.

Finally, huge thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s event the biggest yet; The drivers and teams on track, the companies and individuals that donated items for the auction and raffle, the people that came to support us on the day, the guys behind the cameras and of course to Buckmore Park and their staff for helping us make Karting for Heroes so special.

Full results and timings here 2014 K4H Results

Full details of next year’s event will be announced on the K4H website and through social media.

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Afghan Hero Ride

Hero Ride is very much our shining light when it comes to challenge events. It's a huge demonstration of camradarie and determination. It reflects the elements that Help for Heroes stands for and that's why, on the 6th of July, Sgt Katie Mason and some of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Sqn team took it upon themselves to create their own version of Hero Ride.

The ATC team aren't exactly local. They're based in Camp Bastion so it's hardly surprising that they couldn't make it 1to the UK-based Hero Ride. That didn't stop them, though. To compensate, about 18 of them took turns to hop on a static bike and collectively cycle a whopping 5663km (3518 miles) in under three weeks, all while operating round the clock in an extremely busy and complex theatre.

5663km, apart from being a heck of a distance, may not be immediately meaningful to many. However, to the ATC team, it hits a lot closer to home; it's the precise distance from RAF Brize Norton, UK, to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

The team managed to raise an equally impressive £705 for Help for Heroes. Their Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) Sqn Ldr Toothill commended them saying, "I am immensely proud of Sgt Mason and the wider ATC Sqn Team for undertaking this cycling challenge and showing great commitment to wider Service charities while on deployed operations. My personnel continue to play a pivotal part in operating the fifth busiest UK-mil run airfield on behalf of CO 903 EAW. This extra task just demonstrates further their capacity and enthusiasm associated with todays modern RAF."

The team's target was initially £1000. They're using a JustGiving page to raise funds. Why not pay their page a visit and donate whatever you can?

Visit BastionATC to read more and donate.

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Bear-B-Q at Chavasse VC House Recovery Centre

The sausages sizzled and the burgers didn’t get burnt at Chavasse VC House, on Thursday 17 July. On the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures soaring to a whopping 33 degrees, residents, veterans, staff and supporters enjoyed an evening full of entertainment, laughter and, of course, delicious food eaten al fresco. It was all part of the Help for Heroes Bear-B-Q campaign, raising £912 in the process.

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The entertainment came thick and fast as wounded, injured and sick veterans, service personnel and their loved ones were treated to the beautiful vocal talent of Joanna Power who sang an impressive catalogue of modern rock and pop songs and even took requests from our wounded. Next up were The Landed, an Essex indie/rock group who recently had their EP Taking You Out aired on BBC Radio One - definitely a group to watch! The four piece band rocked Chavasse VC house with their own amazing songs as well as popular covers like Superstitious.

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Stand-up comedy was next on the billing and the 50 strong audience had tears in their eyes as Comedian Kane delivered his ‘pull no punches’ act that saw smiles plastered on everyone’s faces. If that wasn’t enough, throughout the evening a table top magician amazed everyone with his tricks that left guests speechless.

The Help for Heroes Bear-B-Q is a national fundraising campaign that runs from 16 – 31 August. It encourages friends and families to enjoy the popular British summer tradition whilst raising money for our heroes. To find out more about the campaign or to register your Bear-B-Q and receive a free fundraising pack visit http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/challenges-blog/be-inspired/

Cycling Across America Update 4

Update on Alex Halliday, William Duffy and James Howard who are currently Cycling Across America!

Alex _Halliday _6We hope you are all enjoying this rare English weather we are hearing about. Not the best news for us...we were hoping to be showing off weeks of tanning! Seems we won't be standing out from the crowd after all.

We just thought we would give you a quick update as fingers crossed we shall be boring you with a final blog on the 29th! We are about 400 miles away from San Francisco now and we cannot tell you how excited we are to get over that finish line. Getting on the bike everyday has become very tough and our bodies are truly in need of some serious rest and recovery.

The last week or so has probably been the hardest so far. We are all exhausted and have been desperately in need of some home comforts. Our prayers were answered by the arrival of James's father, Philip. Having done the whole trip unsupported, we decided that tackling the heat of the Nevada during the middle of July was probably not the smartest thing to do. Thus, Philip has come to our rescue housing over 120 bottles of water and countless boxes of cereal bars in his car. We have also been rather cheeky and chucked our panniers in the car - the difference it makes is substantial and it has helped us to make up many of the lost miles waiting out storms. Further, it is fair to say that the three of us underestimated the Nevada and that Philip has been a life saver. Unsurprisingly, there is absolutely no shade in the desert and we're not exaggerating when we say at 7:30pm it was still 100 degrees fahrenheit. As a result of these factors we were rather worried about getting heatstroke. Given there was a stretch of desert with no water for 90 miles left us more than a little worried. Our new member of the squad therefore kept the water on ice as well as the air-con on full blast for our breaks...which were happening rather frequently it must be said. From the three of us - and the rest of our families - I would like to thank Philip for coming out and supporting us through a part in our trip which could have stopped us in our tracks.

Having struggled through Utah and the Nevada, we are in reach of California and are in touching distance of the finish. Utah and the Nevada were both stunning, confirming our views that the west coast is far more interesting than the east. We would quickly like to quell any rumours that the Nevada desert is flat...it's not. Believe us...there are big old hills that not even cars enjoy going up!!

May we apologise for keeping this brief but sleep is of the essence and we fear we shall run out of things to say before the final blog! It is quite strange that the finish is just around the corner and after spending so long crossing the country we don't quite know what we are going to do with ourselves when we get back to reality!

If you haven't done already, please take a peek at www.bmycharity.com/transamericacycle.

All the best and watch this space for the final instalment of our trip!

TeamTrueSpirit conquers IronMan UK

Help for Heroes Supported Challenge Team, created by Mark Airey at Headley Court four years ago, is made up of serving guys and support staff, including H4H employees. At 6 o’clock on Sunday 20 July (a date tattooed in my memory for eternity), 36 members of the team formed up to take part in IronMan UK. Some members take part in all three elements – swim, bike, run – others form relay teams and often compete with adapted equipment. Recumbent bikes and hand bikes enable those with certain physical injuries to take part in the bike element; racing wheelchairs give those who are unable to run the opportunity to complete the marathon.

To sign on the dotted line, commit to the months of training and confirm your intention to compete is one thing, but quite another to jump into Pennington Flash (the Lancashire lake around which we swam 2.4 miles) with the national anthem blaring, supporters cheering and commentators lifting the already impossibly high levels of adrenaline and heart rate.

Following the swim, a 112 mile bike ride around a newly-created route that still included the infamous Sheep House climb (1km 22% average gradient), but now also offered up ‘Hunters Hill’… a lung-bursting, punchy climb which, on the second time around the course, comes at the 96 mile point. This is a phenomenal challenge for an able-bodied individual on a regular road bike. To complete the cycle on a hand bike, recumbent or adapted road bike is extraordinary.

Digging deep never had such meaning! The final 16 miles were a race to meet the cut off i.e the cumulative time of swim and cycle that must not be more than 10 hours 30 minutes. The emotional strain of knowing that we could not progress to the run if we failed to meet this goal was telling: having crossed the line with just one minute to spare, the pressure and effort got the better of a couple of us, and we ran to the next stage with tears streaming down our faces.

We were then left with 6 hours 19 minutes in which to complete a marathon. Over six hours to run 26 miles? Piece of cake you say…not with blisters the size of walnuts on the balls and heels of your feet and 26 degree heat! It was agony – just, I imagine, like running on broken glass.

We pounded the Bolton streets with pain in our bodies, fear in our hearts and desperation in our eyes. The thought of not finishing was unbearable. As the hours passed, the number of athletes dwindled and the light began to fade. On collection of the last coloured arm band to show we had entered the final lap of the course, the realisation struck (again) that this was the closest I had cut anything in my life – Mark Airey told me we had 40 minutes to complete just over 3 miles. The strategy was simple: run five traffic cones, walk three. By this time, most of the wounded guys and girls had finished, and were waiting at the finish line!

Iron Man

 

For the final three miles I watched the feet of Mark and BattleBack’s Roger Coates, marching and running, and visualised the blokes on the finish line who had achieved what most would say was unachievable. They epitomised the meaning of the word 'hero', and the thought of them enabled me to shuffle my way to the finish line.

I’ve never experienced anything like the noise, cheering, flashing lights and encouragement on the faces of the supporters. With two minutes and one second to spare, I heard the words ‘YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!’ and, as I crossed the line, I could see the faces of the many TeamTrueSpirit members who earlier that evening had themselves heard those same words. The pride and feeling of achievement was overwhelming; pride for being lucky enough to be associated with such an incredibly special group of people and to have shared in their adventure, and achievement for everyone involved.

Inspire, enable, support.      

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