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Hero Ride 2014 - Lorraine Kelly, Ross Kemp and Peta Cavendish Line Up to Support Help for Heroes

by Nick Gregory

Help for Heroes patrons Lorraine Kelly, Ross Kemp and Peta Cavendish recently launched Hero Ride 2014, encouraging the British public to take part in the biggest cycling event in support of our wounded heroes the country has ever seen. 

Joined by charity ambassador Pollyanna Woodward, and wounded ex-Servicemen Steve McCulley and Ben Zissman, Hero Ride 2014 launched at the EDF Energy London Eye - just a stone's throw from the iconic Cenotaph - with the aim of raising £1.5 million. 

On the back of the hugely successful event last year, Hero Ride 2014 will see organised routes from Brussels, Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff and the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre at Tedworth House. All rides will come together on Sunday 8th June for the Grand Finale, where an anticipated 2,000 riders will ride from Blackheath into Horse Guards Parade. 

With 10,535 British men and women injured in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Combat Stress estimating that 40,000 Servicemen and women will suffer from some form of invisible injury over the coming years, Help for Heroes have stressed the importance of the £1.5 million fundraising target. 

Help for Heroes needs to deliver two key new projects this year: The Hidden Wounds Psychological Wellbeing Programme and an expansion of the Northern Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Catterick.

H4H1
(Photo by Jonathan Hordle/REX)

Actor Ross Kemp, who has long been associated with supporting the British Armed Forces, said, "Help for Heroes is so important because it umbrellas so many other military charities. It's run by people who are ex-military, so they have the best understanding of what's required. It's all about getting the money to where it's needed as soon as possible." 

He added, "We have a massive problem coming our way, a lot of these issues don't surface until sometime after the trauma. And it's not only the affect it has on them physically, but mentally too - the invisible wound. When we come out of Afghanistan the government may say the war is over, but for the guys and girls who served, the war will never be over." 

Kemp concluded by saying that, "Help for Heroes is great because it gives civilians the opportunity to come together with members of the military and raise money for people who have given everything for us, it's a great way to say thank you. Help for Heroes continues to remind us soldiers don't fade away, they're here, and they need our help." 

Lorraine Kelly, a long term Patron of the Charity, said, "It really helps the guys out in Afghanistan to know people are thinking of them, and that's where Help for Heroes makes a huge difference. When they know little kids are giving their pocket money and things like that - it's a phenomenal boost." 

"I think women have got a big part to play - there's this wonderful organisation called band of sisters that's made up of wives, sisters and mothers of servicemen who help support each other when things are tough," Kelly continued. "Get on the website, helpforheroes.org.uk. It's a cracking way to keep fit and a brilliant way to raise money. We're really hoping for £1.5m, it's ambitious, but the British public have been phenomenal so far and I'm sure they'll rise to the challenge." 

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(Photo by Jonathan Hordle/REX)

Help for Heros Patron Peta Cavendish, wife of professional cyclist Mark, will be tackling the Big Battlefield Bike Ride for the third time: 

"I've been involved for a number of years now. When I first visited Hedley Court I didn't know anything about it. It really shocked me how young a lot of the guys and girls were. I thought if I don't know about it, then other people don't either, and that's not good enough. I wanted to do anything I could to help, and a few months later the first Big Battlefield Bike Ride was announced. I am no accomplished cyclist, and I really suffered, but it's very hard to moan when you're surrounded by the kind of guys and girls that you're with." 

Cavendish continued, "What the charity has managed to do is really capture the general public's imagination in terms of the fact that they took it into people's living rooms. They made it easy to get involved in. Whether you did or didn't believe in the war, you could support your forces." 

"I actually met Mark at a Help for Heroes event, so right from the very beginning that was one of the first things we ever spoke about. I took him down to Hedley Court and from then on he said, 'Look, even if I can't make the rides, I want to do whatever I can.'" 

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(Photo by Jonathan Hordle/REX)

Major Steve McCulley, who was injured whilst serving with the Marines in Afghanistan in the summer of 2011, spoke of the support he has received from Help for Heroes:

"During rehab I knew I was going to be medically discharged from the Marines, and Help for Heroes were great in helping me set up my new custom carbon bike building business. They paid for my accreditation, helped me go on courses and allowed me to get the qualifications i needed to get the business off the ground. It seemed like the obvious thing to do as I used to race for the Navy and the Marines, and have always been passionate about cycling. Now I've been discharged I can focus on a new challenge, which is great." 

LIOS Bikes - named after McCulley's children, Lilly and Oscar - officially launched in August 2013, and the early signs are looking good. Because of his injuries - sustained during an IED explosion - the Big Battlefield Bike Ride this summer represents the first opportunity McCulley has had for over two and a half years to get back in the saddle and take on an event. 

"I'm just chuffed to be able to take part in the event from Brussels to Paris and raise funds and awareness for Help for Heroes," he said. 

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(Photo by Jonathan Hordle/REX)

Hero Ride is an expansion of the Big Battlefield Bike Ride, the charity's first official fundraiser. Since then, with support from the British public, Help for Heroes has raised over £163m. The signature BBBR is now in its seventh year and will cover 335 miles between Brussels and Paris. New for 2014 there will be five UK based rides leaving from Edinburgh, Manchester, Cardiff and the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House in Wiltshire. 

The full list of rides is as follows:

  • Big Battlefield Bike Ride, Brussels to Paris, 01-08 June 2014, 335 miles
  • Tartan Express, Edinburgh to London, 01-08 June 2014, 440 miles
  • Northern Flyer, Manchester to London, 04-08 June 2014, 230 miles
  • Dragon Dash, Cardiff to London, 05-08 June 2014, 170 miles
  • Dawn Raid, Tedworth House to London, 08 June 2014, 100 miles
  • Puffing Pedallers, Tedworth House to London, 07-08 June 2014, 100 miles
  • Your Hero Ride, DIY cycle rides which cover any distance set out by the supporter

To sign up to Hero Ride 2014 or donate go to www.helpforheroes.org.uk





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