A BRECON COUPLE who cycled 2,300km through France and Spain to raise funds for veterans support service Change Step say they are already planning their next long-distance bike ride.
Jonathan and Amanda Barnett raised almost £7,000 for the project, which provides effective peer mentoring and practical help for former members of the Armed Forces — including assistance with mental health, substance misuse and other issues.
The couple pedalled from Cherbourg in the north of France to Gibraltar, at the southern tip of Spain, inside four weeks, covering up to 150km at a time and rattling through France without a rest day.
Jonathan – formerly a major in the Royal Regiment of Wales, and widely known as Barney – said he and novice cyclist wife Amanda had got through the trip without an argument or a puncture.
“We actually loved it, and it was a great experience,” Barney said. “It was such a good trip that we now want to do another one!
“We had extremes of temperature – really cool in Northern France, then it was so hot during the heatwave in Spain that we had to buy electric fans to cool down.
“But the most interesting part of the trip was last bit between Malaga and Gibraltar – where we were pretty much forced to cycle down the side of a motorway with trucks rumbling past!”
The couple were pleased to be joined by friends for stages of their journey and, by chance, also spent some time in the saddle alongside generous trustees from the Annabel Arbib Foundation.
Sponsors pledged more than £4,000 in support of the intrepid duo – but, with the addition of Gift Aid, £1,000 in match funding from Barney’s employer Deutsche Bank, and another £1,000 from the Arbib Foundation, the total figure reached a target-smashing £6,890.
The Barnetts presented a cheque to Change Step director Geraint Jones and mid-Wales peer mentor Phil Johnson at their Argoed Barns holiday business near Felinfach.
Delivered by veterans for veterans, Change Step provides support for former members of the forces and reservists in Wales — and has been hailed as a “best-in-class” and “value for money” service by the Forces in Mind Trust.
Mr Jones thanked Barney and Amanda, and everyone who contributed to their adventure, for their generosity.
“We’re pleased to have backing for our projects from the Royal British Legion, from local health boards, from Veterans NHS Wales, and from lots of other partners, volunteers and communities across Wales,” he said.
“But, like many good causes, we rely on donors to help fund our efforts to ensure veterans get access to the support they need.
“So I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Barney and Amanda, and to everyone who has supported them, from everyone involved with Change Step.”
| Change Step has supported around 1,200 veterans and their families in Wales since being launched in 2014. To find out more, visit www.changestepwales.co.uk or search ChangeStepWales on Facebook and Twitter
For more information, James Williamson, Marketing & PR Officer, CAIS, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07787 570 495