Veterans with physical and mental injuries to ride 1400 miles across UK for Help for Heroes
To mark the tenth anniversary of the charity Help for Heroes, a group of four military veterans in their 40’s and 60’s with mental and physical injuries will be cycling 1400 miles across the UK, from John O’Groats to Land’s End, visiting every Help for Heroes recovery centre on the way.
On the 1st May 2017 Lee Patmore, a naval veteran who is now mainly confined to a wheelchair, will be taking on the challenge in a recumbent hand cycle will be joined by Stephen Craddock, 58 a Royal Engineers veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Brent New an Australian Veteran and Brian Kilgannon who served 23 years in the Royal Marines and who also suffers from PTSD. As patron of the event, fashion model, racing car driver and television personality, Jodie Kidd will also be joining part of the ride.
Help for Heroes was founded in 2007 to provide direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel, Veterans and their loved ones. Stephen Craddock in the charity’s single biggest fundraiser, having organised a number of large events that have raised a total of £376,000
For any fully able cyclist the Land’s End to John O’Groats 900 mile route is daunting. By adding 4 recovery centres as well as Hedley court to the route, Lee’s journey on a recumbent hand-bike will be a serious challenge, as well as add another 500 miles and a total of 63000ft of climbing.
Stephen says of his 2017 Cycle2Recovery challenge: “PTSD took me to some very dark places for many years and it badly affected my life and the lives of those closest to me. I self-medicated through fundraising, organising events and cycling. I ride 150 miles every week to keep my condition at bay. If it wasn’t for cycling, I wouldn’t be here.
“Help for Heroes has widened its reach from those who served post 9/11 to the wider forces, including those who served in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and to many other conflicts and so we are here to show what guys can do when they work together, as well as raise awareness of overcoming mental and physical issues.
Stephen continues: “It is all about demonstrating that injuries, disabilities and chronic illnesses are no bar to sporting achievement. It will also demonstrate that despite being diagnosed with PTSD, you can still go out there and do amazing things and support those around you. The joy of riding with ex-veterans is not about speed, but being with other people who are overcoming their physical and mental wounds; sharing our individual stories as we’re riding”.
Stephen and Jodie met in Asia while riding with 38 other riders in the Help for Heroes Burma Bike Ride in February 2016. Jodie Kidd says: “When you’ve cycled across Thailand and Burma alongside someone in 52c degree heat, for six days, almost to breaking point, you certainly create a bond with your fellow riders. Steve and I battled together and became good friends. I’m so pleased to be a patron for his immense challenge and plan to join Steve, Lee and Brian for part of their journey.
Jodie continues: “Help for Heroes’ motto is to inspire, enable and support. Stephen is inspirational in the fundraising work he does, as well as showing those with long-term mental issues can achieve incredible things. As an ambassador for Help for Heroes, I’ve seen the remarkable work the charity does in enabling and supporting veterans to reclaim their lives.