Malcolm Hingle, an ex-policeman who was seriously injured in 2006 after a motorcycle crash, says his involvement with our Big Battlefield Bike Ride has helped change his life.
Malcolm, 57, from Chingford, underwent 56 operations to save his injured left leg, before doctors confirmed that it required amputation.
But despite the obvious post-surgery trauma, a fateful visit to Help for Heroes Headley Court Recovery Centre ensured Malcolm would emerge with a fierce desire to overcome his condition and raise money for a “fantastic cause”.
He said: “A friend of mine was in the military and I was able to have a tour around the centre. On looking around, I was shocked, but only because I witnessed some inspirational men and women confronting their problems. As I came out of the building I saw a bloke cycling with a prosthetic arm and leg, and just thought to myself that it was something I could do.”
Malcolm was inspired by what he had seen at Headley Court, and was determined to “get off his backside” and challenge himself.
After rummaging through his garage and finding his old push bike, he made the necessary modifications which would allow his stump to rest easy on the pedals.
He was then invited to join 300 other participants on the 2013 Big Battlefield Bike Ride, and hasn’t looked back.
The 2013 event saw the riders travel from Paris to London, via the windswept plains of Northern France, the choppy waters of the English Channel, and the deceptively steep hills of Kent, before entering London and finishing at Whitehall’s Horse Guards Parade.
Malcolm said the aim of the trip was to raise money, but riding alongside Veterans and people from a broad spectrum made it a “spectacular experience”.
He said: “When you hear the stories from those taking part, you just realise what fantastic people they are. I have made lifelong friends from doing the ride, and of course I am really proud to raise money for Help for Heroes. From a personal point of view, I have benefited mentally, as it has taught me to embrace my problems; it really is such an eye opener and a fantastic thing to be involved in."
The former policeman encouraged those who had encountered similar mental or physical hardships to step into the unknown, and “try a new challenge”, as well as taking in key moments in British history.
“I would say that it’s important to do something different. The BBBR is a great event, and as well as the comradeship and camaraderie, you get to visit historical places and learn about our forefathers who made us into the country we are today.”
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.