Saturday saw the 5th running of an annual charity bike ride in support of Help for Heroes. The event is organised by former Royal Engineer Steve Craddock. Steve said, “I organise this event to coincide with Armed Forces Day so that we pay tribute to our armed forces past and present, and at the same time raise valuable funds to enable Help for Heroes to continue their work with our wounded, sick and injured.”
Over 100 cyclist gathered at the Royal Engineers Museum, as they prepared to cycle 50 miles around the lanes of North Kent. Amongst the riders were many of the charity’s beneficiaries who have been or are being helped on their road to recovery. Also joining the ride, to everyone's delight, was Kent's own double gold winning athlete Dame Kelly Holmes. Dame Kelly said, “As a former servicewoman myself, I really think the work that charities such as Help for Heroes carry out is vital in ensuring anyone who has been injured in body or mind as a result of their service should get the best care possible. Events such as this one not only raise a great deal of money but also help people understand that though the guns may have fallen silent for now, the pain still carries on for many.”
The riders set off at 8:30 am to get the miles in before the temperature soared to 35 degrees Celsius. Although the temperature climbed, the riders were supplied with plenty of water and snacks to keep them hydrated and fuelled for what a tough day in the saddle. Amazingly, the first riders back completed the ride in only just over two hours, with the majority finishing by 1:30 pm. Many of the early finishers rode back on the course to help and encourage the slower riders, showing that the spirit of the ride is about helping others.
At the end of the ride, the cyclists formed into one large peloton to cycle from the Royal Engineers museum up to the great lines in Gillingham, the site of Medway Armed Forces Day. As the peloton rode into the main arena they were welcomed by thousands of spectators, who cheered and congratulated everyone on their efforts. At the time of writing this report, the event has raised over £9000, a figure that will rise as individual sponsorship money is collected.
Steve Craddock is now closing in on his target of raising £500,000 for Help for Heroes which, with only £23,000 to go, he hopes to complete by the end of this year. Next on his list is next Friday as he rides 220 miles around Kent on the Goatham's Great Kent Cycle ride, and then in October, his biggest challenge this year will be cycling the length of Portugal, 480 miles in 5 days.
You can help Steve reach his target by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cycle4heroes5.