The biggest cycling show of support for our wounded that this country has ever seen concluded on Sunday as over 1,300 Hero Ride cyclists crossed the finish line at Horse Guards Parade.
Members of the public lined The Mall to support the riders who had travelled into London from all corners of the country in support of Help for Heroes.
The 2013 Hero Ride cyclists, led by over 150 wounded veterans and Service personnel from the UK, USA and Canada, paused to pay respects at the Monument to the Women of WW2 before riding in formation along The Mall towards Admiralty Arch to reach the finish line at Horse Guards Parade.
The ride then culminated at Horse Guards Parade with a military celebration including performances from The Games Maker Choir and The State Trumpeters.
Hundreds of organised bike rides took place in the lead up to Sunday's finale. The first was the Big Battlefield Bike Ride which saw 300 cyclists ride over 350 miles from Paris to London. The large group of fundraisers were waved off by the Duchess of Cornwall at Les Invalides when they set off on Tuesday 28 May.
Cpl Josh Boggi, a triple amputee who took part in this year’s BBBR said: “I wanted to do this ride because Help For Heroes helped me and I wanted to give something back. I’ve raised £5,000, so if that helps another lad who is where I used to be, then that’s good.”
In another gallant feat, a team which included 15 wounded Service personnel and veterans cycled 423 miles from Edinburgh into London.
In a more concentrated effort, a team of 250 elite cyclists took part in the Dawn Raid Sportive which left the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House in the early hours of Sunday morning. The riders pedalled 90 miles through the night, departing at 2am in order to meet with the other cyclists at Blackheath for the final ride in to central London.
The atmosphere on Sunday was incredible, with celebrities and the public coming together to show their support for our wounded.
Help for Heroes Patron Mark Cavendish met cyclists at Blackheath and again on Horse Guards Parade.
“The amount of support there was - cars beeping, people clapping – was pretty special. It shows how much people want to get behind our Armed Forces, and what a great charity Help for Heroes is. Some guys have ridden from Paris on handbikes – it’s incredible. To see them and the people supporting them is really moving.”
Mark’s fiancée, long time H4H supporter and Patron, Peta Todd, took part in the ride wearing a red Hero Ride shirt. She said:
“We can all be so proud of not only our achievement but also the money that’s been raised for Help for Heroes – we are ensuring that their support can continue long-term and our support needs to keep coming!”
Adding to the star-studded line up of cyclists was musician James Blunt. As a former Serviceman, James understands the sacrifices made by those who fight for our country.
“It’s a huge honour to come down here on my bicycle. For me, the most incredible sight is at the front - our soldiers who have been injured, who have lost limbs. There are guys who have lost one leg, double amputees, some with both legs missing and an arm missing and they're still here, on hand-bikes even.
"Some have come from Paris or from Edinburgh, and they're the fittest and the strongest amongst us. I'm totally inspired by them, they have the biggest smiles, they have the greatest, most positive outlook on life.
"They have, of course, had great support from Help for Heroes which itself has had amazing support from Joe Public out there, who have said: 'come on we want to get behind these guys and say thank you'."
Hero Ride 2013 was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.
The money raised by this event will support those who have been injured or become ill while serving our country. One beneficiary of Help for Heroes support is Paralympian, Jon Allan-Butterworth, who took part in this year’s BBBR. He said:
“Help for Heroes is a charity that has supported me so I understand exactly how the public’s support and fundraising is used to help wounded troops – in my case it has literally changed my life and I am immensely grateful.
“Today has made me very proud to be British and I want to say a huge thank you and congratulations to everyone that has taken part in Hero Ride, no matter how big or small their participation, every single person has made a difference. All of the effort and the fundraising by every cyclist today will be translated into support for our troops.”
For anyone wishing to donate to the Hero Ride, text ‘RIDE’ to 70900 to donate £5 to Help for Heroes. You will be charged £5 plus your standard network rate. Mobile Text Telephone helpline: 01494 750 500.
The team at Help for Heroes are already planning next year's Hero Ride. Register for Hero Ride 2014!