Serving soldiers fulfil challenge to help veterans

Going the distance - soldiers from the Royal Artillery
Going the distance - soldiers from the Royal Artillery

Serving soldiers from Thorney Island have undertaken an epic bike ride to raise money for disabled veterans.

When the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Baker Barracks, visited The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Worthing to see its care for disabled ex-servicemen and women, they were so impressed, they pledged to take on a challenge to raise money for the charity.

Staff Sgt Walker, centre, with members of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery and staff from Tesco, Havant

Staff Sgt Walker, centre, with members of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery and staff from Tesco, Havant

The soldiers decided to cycle the length of Great Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats – a distance of 838 miles.

Their busy schedules meant they could not spend the five to seven days it would need to undertake the challenge on the roads but, being soldiers, they managed to cycle the whole distance on static bicycles in just one day.

Four bicycles were in situ at Tesco in Solent Road, Havant, for the day and 12 soldiers took it in turns to ‘cycle like crazy’ to ensure they completed the 838 miles before the store closed.

Staff Sgt Vance Walker, a long-term supporter of the Worthing home at events and parades, devised the initiative.

Soldiers from the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery at Worthing War Memorial on Armistice Day last year

Soldiers from the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery at Worthing War Memorial on Armistice Day last year

He said: “We saw first hand the excellent facilities at The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home and the amazing care that the dedicated staff provide to our veterans, many of whom have brain or spinal injuries.

“We wanted to do something special to raise money for this extraordinary place but it had to be done in a day, which is why the challenge took place on static bicycles. Even so, it was tough to cycle 838 miles.”

A total of £3,597 was raised on the day, with the super support from shoppers.

Elizabeth Baxter, head of fundraising at the home, said: “Everyone at The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home is amazed at what a fantastic amount of money was raised by the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery soldiers.

“They really cycled so hard to complete the 838 miles all in one day and our heartfelt thanks go to Staff Sgt Walker and all the participants for all their hard work.

“We are so proud that serving members of the regiment have raised so much money for disabled veterans in our care.

“The home receives no government funding and this year we have to raise over £1.3million. The money raised by the Royal Artillery soldiers will be a welcome boost to our fundraising and we are so grateful that serving soldiers are helping our veterans who have given so much for our country and now need our help.”

The hospital home, in Boundary Road, has provided care and rehabilitation to ex-servicemen and women since 1919. Services include nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.

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