Veteran Steve Craddock is all about big numbers. £500,000 is what he hopes to raise for Help for Heroes by the end of 2019 since he started supporting us 12 years ago. 12,000 miles is the estimated distance he has cycled on fundraising events during this time (not including his training cycles every when he saddles up every day), becoming our biggest-ever individual fundraiser in the process.
He has taken part in, or organised, 19 multi-day sponsored cycling events and 9 one-day sportives over this time, including setting up 5 of his own annual cycling sportives, Cycle for Heroes – and has a special fundraising event with World-Record cyclist, Mark Beaumont on 1st November (more of which below).
He is an incredibly healthy 62-year-old who puts many younger people to shame with this fitness regime for his gruelling fundraising schedule. However, this has not always been the case.
At the age of 17, Steve joined the Royal Engineers, doing six tours of Northern Ireland. He saw some terrible things but, like many in the Armed Forces, he bottled things up. Then, 11 years on, a family tragedy acted led to him reliving awful memories. They were so frightening that he tried to stay awake so he wouldn’t get flashbacks in his sleep.
He kept things to himself, although inside he was collapsing, and became, in his words, ‘a nasty, vindictive git’, making the lives of his wife and family hell. He also struggled physically, ballooning to 17st, and this was affecting his mental health.
The changing point was when he was diagnosed with PTSD. He finally understood that he wasn’t going mad – he had a condition – and he made a pledge to himself to get better.
He signed up for the Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride and bought a bike. However, at first Steve found the training a real challenge. Cycling the 350 miles from Normandy to Paris when he was almost 18 stone was horrendously difficult, especially up the hills.
But, getting on a bike was the first step on his recovery – it gave him a reason to get out of bed and leave the house; it helped lift his mood and his feelings of isolation by being able to cycle with other people. The weight started to come off, his mental health started to improve and he hasn’t stopped since!
Setting fundraising challenges is what keeps Steve going. This helps him mentally and knowing that he’ll be helping others going through the same kind of difficulties as he has, whether through mental or physical injury, is a massive driver.
Steve’s own recovery journey and his incredible tenacity to keep raising funds for us is a true inspiration. If you would like to help him to achieve his £500,000 goal before the end of the year then you can do one of two things:
If you’re free on Friday 1st November then get your tickets for his ‘Evening with Mark Beaumont’ at the Glassbox Theatre in Gillingham Kent. Mark will be showing videos and talking about his incredible journey cycling around the world in fewer than 80 days. He will also be joined by special guest star, Dame Kelly Holmes. Tickets are only £15 can be booked here.
Sponsor him here for his next incredible cycling challenge, the 2020 European Challenge. He will be cycling alongside another veteran, Lee Patmore, who uses a wheelchair following for a back injury sustained during his time in the Royal Navy. The two of them will be cycling for 2020 miles, across 22 days to raise £2,020 for Help for Heroes.
But he won’t stop there – as he says, “many veterans continue to need the support this important charity provides, and as long as one veteran continues to need support, I will be there fundraising for them”.