The West 280 Hero Ride, started from the Endeavour Building at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Plymouth this morning, with smiling faces all around. Nine wounded servicemen and veterans accompanied by 20 members of the public gathered in front of the Help for Heroes statue before riding a lap of the naval base and hitting Plymouth’s fairly lumpy streets!
Hayley Green who works for Interserve says she has supported Help for Heroes for a long time; “I spent a year working in Iraq alongside the troops, and through Interserve I was also involved in the build for Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Plymouth which was an incredible experience. Help for Heroes is always one of those charities that I will continue to do my bit for.”
It wasn’t long before one rider had a minor tumble – H4H staff rider Claire had a little skid on some gravel before a gentle (some might say graceful) fall to the left. Thankfully no real damage was done!
First stop of the day was at Ivybridge RFU where the riders gathered to munch on flapjacks and glug down a paper mug of coffee, before the group set off together through the tree lined country lanes of Buckfastleigh.
At lunch in St Andrews Town Hall in Ashburton the group were treated to choir practise in the background as they chowed down on breads, cheeses and pasta. Some of the participants had a chat with Andy, a reporter from Heart Radio who was keen to hear how everyone was progressing! At this point we had a catch up with BoB member, Brian Kilgannon who showed us his impressive tattoo, of the Hero Ride West 280 logo! Genuine ink to show how dedicated he is to the ride, his fellow Band of Brother members and of course, Help for Heroes.
Brian said, “I’ve been riding for 12 years now. I do it for the love of it. My injuries are in my head, but for some of these guys their injuries are physical and to ride with them, getting up the hills despite their injuries means more to me than any other type of riding. Unless Help for Heroes and the general public keeps supporting our guys and girls, why would people keep going into the armed forces? They put themselves on the line for us, so the least we can do it look after them if they get injured.”
The afternoon was a breeze after this, with the exception of Telegraph hill which was a challenge to be overcome late in the day. But there were still smiles all round as the group rode into Exeter in time for some hot food and a shower before doing it all over again tomorrow!