Fundraising Ferring friends to cycle D-Day Beaches

Two sexagenarian friends from Ferring are to cycle almost 350 miles in six days to the D-Day beaches and back to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings, while raising funds for Help for Heroes.

Engineering geomorphologist Gareth Hearn, 65, and retiree Colin Brown, 68, who’ve been friends – and near neighbours – for nearly three years, decided to set themselves the task as it poses a significant challenge for them.

Describing himself as a casual Sunday cyclist, Gareth already has five, more modest, sponsored bike rides under his belt. And, while Colin is more familiar with long rides and cycling sponsorship, both men have significant issues with their knees, and, therefore, are looking forward to the challenge – which begins on 27 May – with some trepidation.

Gareth had been considering such an undertaking for some time, but it wasn’t until the two got together that they decided to make it happen and link it to the anniversary of D-Day.

Initially, they planned to cycle from Ferring to Newhaven, take the ferry to Dieppe, and cycle west via the Normandy beaches before crossing from Cherbourg to Portsmouth and back to Ferring. But that could prove tough with strong prevailing westerly winds, so they reversed the route, hoping the wind would be behind them.

Although neither of them has any direct military connection, Gareth’s paternal grandfather, Reginald Charles Hearn, fought in World War I and was wounded at the Battle of Marne. His maternal grandfather, George Jenkins, played a key role in the Navy, on minesweeper duty around the British Isles.

Colin’s father, John Brown, was a Royal Engineer, who served with the Gurkhas in Burma and India, during World War II. His grandfather, Andrew Brown, fought with the Gordon Highlanders, from 1915 and, sadly, died in October 1918, at Iwuy, in northern France, just a month before the armistice.

Colin said:

“We chose to do the ride for Help for Heroes, because it is the 80th anniversary of D-Day. There are other organisations, but Help for Heroes is the charity that resonates with most people, I think.”

Gareth echoed his friend’s sentiments and explained:

“I have always felt pride in the way the forefathers of our nation fought for our freedom, and the tremendous sacrifices they made, in both world wars.

“The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings is such an important milestone in our history, and we want to contribute whatever we can. Raising money for our former Armed Forces personnel is one way we can help.”

Sarah Whattam, Help for Heroes’ Senior Fundraising Manager, said:

“The challenges our fundraisers set themselves never fail to astound me. We are, naturally, delighted that Colin and Gareth have chosen to support the Charity in this way and thank them for their efforts. Let’s hope that wind stays firmly in their backs.”

Help for Heroes champions the Armed Forces community and helps them live well after service. The charity helps veteran families to recover and get on with their lives. It has already supported more than 31,000 people and won’t stop until every veteran gets the support they deserve.

The Charity supports veteran families, from any branch of the UK military – regulars or reserves – irrespective of length or place of service, and locally embedded civilians (and their families) who worked under the command of UK Armed Forces.

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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