14 cyclists, six days, 480 miles, one charity

Thu 14 Jul, 2016

Fourteen current and former members of staff from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service are setting off on a 480-mile charity cycle ride on 10 September 2016.

Along with a six-man support crew, they are marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme by following the route of the Western Front from Switzerland through France to Belgium.

The six-day ride will be raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity in memory of two former colleagues who died in 2011. The duo – Keith Holland and Pete Soulsby – used to help organise an annual trip to the Remembrance Day parade at Ypres in Belgium. The trip, which has taken place every year since 1990, enables fire and rescue service staff to pay their respects to the tens of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in World War One but who have no known grave.

Many of the cyclists will be going back to Ypres in November to take part in the parade, but they will be making that journey on four wheels rather than two.

Tim Parkins, Station Commander for Milton Keynes East (Broughton and Newport Pagnell Fire Stations), who is one of the cyclists, said: “As well as being a fitting tribute to two people we all miss, it is an opportunity to raise money for a cause that meant a lot to them.”

The other 13 cyclists are: Firefighter Clive Alexander-Clarke, Great Holm; Firefighter Mark Allison, Aylesbury; Firefighter Dan Ellis, Broughton; Firefighter Carl Fletcher, Broughton; Watch Commander Darren Knowles, Headquarters, Aylesbury; Crew Commander Adam Moore, Headquarters, Aylesbury; Watch Commander Mark Richards, Waddesdon;  ICT Manager Dave Thexton, Headquarters, Aylesbury; Watch Commander Dave Whitelock, Area Trainer, Aylesbury; and Tony Cooke, Steve Foster, Garry Jenkinson-Thorne and Neil Powell, retired.

The support crew comprises Keith Wheeler (Headquarters) riding on the support motorbike plus Crew Commander Colin Manning (Aylesbury) and Mick Martin, Eddie Hunt, Roger Brinklow and Jim Hutchison, all retired.

A number of those taking part are veterans of a similar fundraising ride that took place in 2014 (pictured above).

Tim added: "As well as completing training rides during the week and weekend and taking part in organised rides such as the Tour de Vale, we are undertaking collections at fire station open days as well and stores in Milton Keynes and Aylesbury."

An online donation page has been set up on the Virgin Money Giving website. The cyclists have a Facebook page called BFRS Western Front Centenary Memorial Bike Ride 2016 and you can follow their progress on Twitter at @BFRS_Cycle_Ride