Airmen take on 221-mile cycle test

Neil Palmer, Matt McIntyre, Steve Berry, Matt Cryer and Darren Williams after completing their 221-mile cycle from Paris to London. (Photo copyright Anthony Upton.)
Neil Palmer, Matt McIntyre, Steve Berry, Matt Cryer and Darren Williams after completing their 221-mile cycle from Paris to London. (Photo copyright Anthony Upton.)
0
Have your say

Five airmen from RAF Coningsby joined a crowd of 52 cyclists to bike from Paris to London, marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The 221-mile journey was completed over four days on Brompton bicycles, which, like the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes 75 years ago, are icons of British engineering.

The riders were a mixture of RAF personnel and civilians, brought together by the common goal of marking the anniversary and raising more than £50,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.

Sergeant Neil Palmer, Sergeant Darren Williams, Corporal Matt McIntyre, Corporal Matt Cryer and Wing Commander Steve Berry (all based at RAF Coningsby) together raised more than £3,000.

Darren and Neil completed the final part of the ride dressed as fighter pilots from times gone by.

Wg Cdr Berry said: “The thing that stood out most about the event is that it was a huge hotch potch of people who were all there for a common cause. We had serving, ex-serving, wives, cousins, sisters, daughters, sons, and a bunch of people who were just Brompton nuts.

“We all had the same human spirit to face the challenge head on. The sort of human spirit that would have been on show 75 years ago.”

They were also joined by Sqn Ldr Mark Frazer, who works at the RAF’s Headquarters at RAF High Wycombe and lives in Swarby, near Sleaford, and Richard McDermott who comes from Greatford, near Bourne. They rode to pay tribute to Richard’s grandfather who served with the RAF during the Second World War as an engineer, fitting engines for Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft.

Richard said: “People were fantastic all the way through London, cheering us on and applauding us. It was amazing.”

The ride was timed to coincide with the national commemoration of the Battle of Britain, which took place at Westminster Abbey on Sunday.

Paul Hewson, Regional Director for the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “I would like to thank each and every rider who rose to the challenge of raising £1,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and cycled for four days.

“The dedication, good humour and camaraderie of the team carried them the 221 miles from Paris to London. Without fundraisers like these the RAF Benevolent Fund would not be able to support the RAF family, serving and retired personnel, in the many ways that we do.”

There were nearly 3,000 aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain.