Help for Heroes patron Jeremy Clarkson has visited the Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Tidworth to meet troops who have been affected by life-changing injuries and illness and will benefit from crucial funds raised by the charity’s latest fundraising initiative: Hero Ride.
Top Gear presenter Clarkson, who has been a long-time supporter of the British Armed Forces, spent time with a number of Service personnel and veterans at the Help for Heroes-run Recovery Centre to help promote the biggest cycling demonstration of national support for the wounded this country has ever seen.
Hero Ride, taking place on Sunday June 2, will see cyclists from all corners of the country stage fundraising bike rides and meet on mass in Blackheath and ride together in to central London in support of our wounded.
Led by the biggest cohort of servicemen, women and veterans, Hero Ride is aiming to raise over £2 million for Help for Heroes. The funding will provide vital support for those who have suffered severe injuries or become ill in recent conflicts and their families, for life.
Clarkson said, “I was very privileged this week to spend time with some incredible young men and women at the Help for Heroes-run Recovery Centre at Tedworth House.
“I met a number of troops who have been wounded both here and overseas in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and to see where the funding that Help for Heroes has raised has been spent was quite an eye opener.
“Tedworth House is an amazing place where service personnel can recover and has state of the art recovery facilitates in a comfortable environment for both them and their visiting families.
“I’d like to encourage as many of the great British public as possible to take to their bikes for the Hero Ride event and fundraise in what will be a brilliant day to raise money and also celebrate our heroes.”
The Hero Ride fundraiser will bring thousands of supporters to The Mall and the ride will take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including the Cenotaph and Buckingham Palace before culminating at Horse Guards Parade.
Through Hero Ride, the British public will pledge to support our young men and women, and their families, now and as they grow old.
Corporal Josh Boggi from 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, lost both his legs and his right arm after stepping on an IED on New Year’s Eve in 2010 while serving with the Counter IED Task Force in Afghanistan.
He is now training for the Big Battlefield Bike Ride element of the Hero Ride, using a handbike which Help for Heroes funded for him.
Upon meeting Clarkson today, the 26-year-old said: “To have support from Jeremy Clarkson means so much to the Armed Forces and his support for Hero Ride, which will raise vital funds for Centres such as this at Tedworth House, is fantastic.
“Help for Heroes have been there for me right from the start. They first supported me with significant funding for my housing adaptations and now, through their Band of Brothers support network, I have taken up hand cycling.
“Help for Heroes have supported me once again with a fully fitted and adapted hand bike which I will be using to tackle 350 miles through France as part of Hero Ride.
"I cannot express how much this support means to me and my family. I know that no matter what, Help for Heroes will always be there for me.”
There are a number of ways for the British public to become involved in Hero Ride.
People are being encouraged to sign up to Self-Organised Hero Rides, where cyclists of any ability and of any age form fundraising rides to reach Blackheath on June 2 and join with 900 other riders in the mass finale. The distances cycled and amounts raised are the responsibility of the ride organisers.
Also on June 2, a further 250 riders will take part in Dawn Raid, which is a tougher challenge for the serious, sporting rider, where the cyclists will cycle from Tedworth House to Blackheath – a distance of more than 100 miles.
For those members of the public not wishing or able to cycle, they are encouraged to line the streets of The Mall and cheer on the heroes and champions and help in fundraising on the day.
Bryn Parry, CEO at Help for Heroes, said, “Hero Ride is another chance for the great British public to get behind our troops, whether they are riding, fundraising or cheering on the streets, we urge everyone to get involved.
"With the withdrawal from Afghanistan drawing closer, it is easy to think the job is over but actually the battle has just begun. Challenges such as this allow our support to continue, for life.”
To find out how to get involved in Hero Ride, to sign up and to donate up please visit www.heroride.org.uk