Help for Heroes supporter, Elspeth Cooper, from Herne Bay, has encouraged those with an eye for adventure to join her for this year's Big Battlefield Bike Ride.
Elspeth, 62, entered the flagship event for the first time in 2014, having been inspired by a chance encounter with Help for Heroes the year before.
As part of a choir performing at Horse Guards during the finale of the 2013 Big Battlefield Bike Ride, Elspeth was awestruck at the sight of injured soldiers cycling across the finish line. She said it was very difficult to sing because she was so “choked up” by what she had witnessed.
Elspeth then applied to take part in the following year’s event, returning to the saddle after a 40-year gap, and she has since taken part each year.
“When I took part in the first ride, it was a real eye opener for me. There was great camaraderie between the participants. They come from all walks of life, and are a great bunch of people,” she said.
Although Elspeth struggled on her initial BBBR, she saw the determination of an injured soldier on one of the hill climbs, and was inspired to succeed.
But she joked that she would not look at a map of the route, because she didn’t want to know "how hard” it was going to be.
During the 2017 event, Elspeth joined more than 200 participants cycling through France, Belgium and Holland to commemorate Operation Market Garden, the failed attempt by the Allies in September 1944 to capture key strategic bridges across the River Rhine, and bring a swift end to the Second World War.
“I would encourage those who haven’t taken part in any events, to give it a go. It's a great experience."
The routes and locations of the BBBR change each year, bringing a fresh sense of excitement to those who regularly sign up.
The 2018 Big Battlefield Bike Ride will begin on Sunday, June 10, at Compiegne – the site of the signing of the Armistice. The riders will then travel north past the battlefields of the Somme, before crossing the Belgian border and finishing in Mons on Saturday, June 16, where the first and last shots of the war were fired.
Thursday 8 November 2018‘The Hero – A West End & Friends Tribute’ pays thanks servicemen and women around the World and is raising money for the UK charity, Help For Heroes.