A former Army Captain is urging Scottish cyclists to get on their bikes for Help for Heroes – the charity that helped him when injury ended his career in the Forces.
Today Help for Heroes revealed details of six organised Hero Rides, all departing from different UK cities on 2 June and coming together in London six days later.
One of these rides will set off from Edinburgh – one year after Capt James Cumming undertook a similar journey. Then, he was still serving in the Royal Regiment of Scotland awaiting discharge following an accident during SAS selection. A slipped disk in his neck left him with nerve damage, resulting in a paralysed left arm.
“Due to my injury, cycling is the only sport I can do – my one release!” said the 32-year-old former pupil of Merchiston Castle School.
As part of James’ Road to Recovery, he joined a group of fellow wounded, injured and sick servicemen and veterans on a 445-mile bike ride from Edinburgh to London. The group took just six days to reach the capital, where they joined hundreds of cyclists from all over the UK to ride up The Mall in unison.
This year, for the first time, members of the public are being invited to sign up to the Edinburgh ride and follow in James’s tracks. To sign up for Hero Ride click here or text HERO RIDE to 60777 (standard text rate)
“I signed up for last year’s Hero Ride as I wished to prove to myself that I could still undertake and complete an arduous challenge – something I thought I would never be able to do again after my injury,” said James.
“But I got far more out of it than that - the team spirit; the need to all work together to make sure we finished the ride on time created the same sense of camaraderie that I had enjoyed in the army and had missed so much.”
James, whose family home is in Morningside, now works for Barclays Bank in London, as Programme Manager in Executive Development.
And he has continued to cycle, finding long distance rides that challenge him more each time. Last August, he joined a group of Barclays colleagues, serving and former soldiers, on a 2,000km route around all 20 Barclays Premier League grounds – a feat that raised £230,000, split between Help for Heroes and ABF. This year, he is hoping to cycle from Naples back to the UK – again raising funds for Help for Heroes
“Little did I know, when I completed the Edinburgh to London Hero Ride, that it would end up being, effectively, a training ride for longer distance challenges in the future!” said James.
“Let that be a warning to members of the public who sign up for this year’s ride. It will inspire you to even greater challenges - and, hopefully to raise more money for charities that support wounded servicemen.”
“Thanks to Help for Heroes, I was able to move through my transition alongside other injured servicemen and women who make up the charity’s Band of Brothers. This informal support network helps replace the camaraderie lost when separated from your Regiment by injury. Help for Heroes also helped fund specific resettlement courses to allow me to civilianise’ my skill set and, ultimately, secure a second career.”
All Hero Ride participants will finish together, cycling ten miles on closed roads through London onSunday 8 June. This display of unity will show the public’s support for our wounded, sick and injured service personnel.
Help for Heroes have also announced the return of professional road cyclist and charity Patron, Mark Cavendish as a Hero Ride Ambassador.
“The Hero Ride provides an amazing opportunity to cycle alongside our wounded men and women, and to hear their inspirational stories. I’ve seen how Help for Heroes supports them and their families, and in 2014 that support is going to be more important than ever,” said Mark.
“I’d urge anyone who has ever thought about doing something life-changing or challenging to do their bit and sign-up to the Hero Ride 2014. My wife Peta will be taking part in her 3rd Hero Ride and I hope to join the ride myself.”
In 2013, its inaugural year, Hero Ride raised an incredible £1.1m. 1300 people of all ages and abilities got on their bikes in support of the thousands of men and women who are living with life changing injuries and illnesses sustained while serving our country.
Hero Ride 2014 is going to be even bigger and better. The target is to smash last year’s total by getting 2000 cyclists to help raise £1.5m and show our ‘heroes’ that the Great British Public is here to support them for life.
There will also be new Hero Rides for 2014 from Manchester, Cardiff and Help for Heroes Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Wiltshire, as well as the return of the ‘Dawn Raid’ sportive which will see the participants ride through daybreak towards London.
Each ride will have its own special feel and present a unique challenge, but they will all join together at Blackheath Common to form one giant peloton for the last ten miles to the Grand Finale in central London. Participants also have the chance to organise their own Hero Ride from wherever they choose, to join up with the other routes at Blackheath on 8 June.
As part of Hero Ride, H4H’s signature ride, the Big Battlefield Bike Ride, returns for the seventh year. As 2014 is the Centenary year of the start of the war, it will follow the route of the 1914 WW1 Retreat from Brussels to Paris.
To find out how to get involved in Hero Ride, to sign up or donate please visit www.heroride.org.uk