This morning, Rally for Heroes roared away from the starting block of the Horse Guards Parade and down The Mall in London to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
The biennial fundraising event, Rally for Heroes is an international memorial rally brought together by service personnel, veterans and civilians in commemoration of those who fought and died during the recent Afghanistan conflict.
The launch saw a 60 vehicle-strong convoy put the pedal to the metal past Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament before heading out of London towards Dover, to cross the channel.
The Rally, which is taking place over a 10-day period, will see the 130 Rally participants drive through 10 European countries – UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Austria, Germany and Luxembourg – covering a total of 3,000 miles, 5 miles for every fallen hero since the start of the Afghanistan conflict.
To mark the launch, the Army showcased its engineering and technical expertise with a display to mark the Year of the Engineer aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers. Their magnificent send-off was accompanied by the Coldstream Guards. Representatives from the RAF were also there to mark the event, and continue celebrations for its centenary year – accompanied by two limited edition Aston Martin cars – the Spitfire@80 V12 Vantage S and “Red 10” the Red Arrows themed Vanquish S.
Participants are driven by the desire to support the Armed Forces community and cover the costs of the trip themselves. The 2018 Rally for Heroes aims to raise £10,000 for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity to continue its lifelong support to serving personnel, veterans and their families in need. Rally for Heroes is run by three Directors, Steve Shaw, Benn Laidler and Mick Clark, supported by a superb band of willing volunteers:
Director of Operations for Rally for Heroes, Commander Steve Shaw comments:
“We are delighted to have launched the fourth Rally for Heroes event with SSAFA. It is so important we continue to remember and honour the service personnel who fought for their country in the Afghanistan conflict, and the amount of people who get involved in this initiative is overwhelming.
Director of HR, Benn Laidler comments:
“The whole team is driven by wanting to support serving personnel, veterans and their families and SSAFA is a great charity that does exactly that. During the trip we hold a memorial to remember all those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, which acts as a poignant reminder to us all why we are doing this challenge.
Director of Finance for Rally for Heroes, Mick Clark comments:
“The team have been fundraising hard and the generosity from our sponsors and the public has been outstanding.”
The money raised from Rally for Heroes will go towards helping families such as Mandy and Jamie Small.
(Cpl) Mandy Small’s husband (Cpl) Chris took his own life in November 2016 leaving Mandy to break the devastating news to their young son. Chris had served 21 years as a chef in the Royal Logistics Corp, including gruelling tours of Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and two of Afghanistan, but after he took voluntary redundancy in 2014 he found it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
Mandy, 39, who served 12 years in the RAF Police, has been supported throughout by SSAFA caseworker Sue Cross who was able to provide vital practical assistance and emotional support ranging from sourcing funding to cover funeral costs to arranging bereavement counselling for Mandy’s son.
Rally for Heroes Director, Army Sergeant Mick Clark who is based at Regimental HQ in Catterick Garrison came up with the idea whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2010. What started as an idea for a post-operational tour lad’s weekend soon gained traction as a fundraising event. In partnership with fellow Director, then Army Warrant Officer 2 Benn Laidler, Rally for Heroes has gone from strength to strength raising in excess of £400,000 for military charities.
For more information on Rally for Heroes, please visit: www.rallyforheroes.com
Find SSAFA on Twitter (@SSAFA), Facebook (@SSAFAOfficial) and Instagram (@ssafa_armedforcescharity)
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year our staff and team of volunteers help more than 67,000 people, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts.
For more information visit www.ssafa.org.uk