Sgt Amelia Luddington Help for Heroes (Hero Ride 8th June 2014)
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By Sgt Amelia Luddington - 740 (Whitby) Squadron
After having spent so much time on RAF bases and at ceremonial and forces functions over the past couple of years I have become very aware of the lives that ex-service personnel have had to adjust to major injuries sustained in recent conflict in places such as Afghanistan and other areas. After chatting with my friend and fellow musician in the Air Cadet Organisation National Concert Band Sgt Eloisa Gatenby (781(Newquay) Sqn) we decided that we would like to fund raise for the ‘Help For Heroes’ charity by involving ourselves in the Hero Bike rides of 2014.
The Hero Ride takes place in a variety of different forms with some riders leaving from places such as Paris, Brussels Edinburgh and Wales but the one that we challenged ourselves with was “The Dawn Raid” so at midnight on the 8th July 2014 we met up in a car park at Tedworth House, which is a Help for Heroes residential and support centre, in Tidworth Garrison Town not far from Salisbury in Wiltshire.
As my bike was sorted ready for departure, we readied ourselves for the challenge of a 2am departure and 100 miles ride to central London for the big meeting of participants at Horse guards Parade. A large collection of energy drinks, snacks and of course, a bike speaker did little to steady the nerves as we set off into the night along with about 250 other much older and predominantly male riders.
The journey was long and hard with only two refreshment/rest stops along the way.
We watched the sun rise as we passed through the Wiltshire countryside into the hilly areas of Surrey around Box Hill and on to the fearsome traffic of Greater London to Blackheath common where a couple of thousand other cyclists met up with us, some from the other long trips others from much shorter rides but all making sponsorship money for Help the Heroes. By now we had ridden 97 miles in under 7 and a half hours, but this was not the end.
After regrouping we set of again for another 10 miles, in our new Hero Ride T-shirts led by some real Heroes who had specially adapted bikes and equipment for the last 10 miles into Central London escorted by police motorcyclists, our 2000 strong convoy toured the centre of the city passed Buckingham Palace and on to The Mall before meeting up at Horse Guards for speeches and live music.
Next was the long drive back to Whitby arriving back at midnight. It was a challenging day but absolutely amazing and to ride alongside some real heroes and many serving military personnel, the day was amazing and one I will never forget. My support crew (Mum and Dad) had driven over 700miles, had 3 hours sleep and I had ridden nearly 110 miles, all in 30 hours.
I have fundraising page at http://www.justgiving.com/Luddingtons which I am still raising money on, so it would be lovely if anyone else could donate to. Thank you.
For more information please visit the Squadron website