Twenty bomb disposal experts from the British Army are preparing to cover 1,500 miles by bike to raise funds for Felix Fund – the charity for those affected by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
Switching blast suits for Lycra, the cyclists will begin their ride from Edinburgh to Bielefeld in Germany on June 12th and average about 100 miles per day. In just 15 days, they will visit every security-cleared EOD regiment in the first-ever Tour de Troops.
Key funding has been provided for the event by Kirintec, who specialise in the design and production of security technology solutions. Major opportunities are still available, however, to sponsor each stage and to be featured on the team’s cycling clothing and equipment.
The tour’s route traverses through England before crossing into to northern France. Along the way, the cyclists will pass through the towns and cities close to their military bases, with some special guests likely to feature along the way.
After 15 days on the road, meeting the Bielefeld Troop will mark the end of an exhausting journey. No stranger to that feeling of reaching the body’s physical limits, however, is one of Felix Fund’s greatest heroes and Tour de Troops rider, Captain James Wadsworth.
Capt. Wadsworth, who was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) for bravery in Iraq, has raised thousands of pounds for the charity. Most recently he completed the unforgiving Marathon des Sables (over 156 miles across the Saharan Desert) to raise £1,206 for the cause.
Capt. Wadsworth, known as ‘Waddie’, said: “The Tour de Troops is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot. But in my experience, I know pain can be beaten and that together we can achieve something incredible. This event is to raise money and further awareness of Felix Fund’s amazing work both across the UK and beyond.”
Felix Fund’s money supports people like Clive Smith, who will also be riding in the event. Clive lost both of his legs in an explosion during a tour of Afghanistan. A grant made by the Felix Fund in 2016 meant Clive could travel to Australia for pioneering surgery, which enabled him to walk with prosthetics.
The charity’s activities also focus on providing mental health support. Having played a significant part in the care of over 100 EOD teams returning from the Afghanistan conflict, the charity now offers Dashboard Courses on mindfulness: building awareness of the warning signs linked to mental health problems and sharing coping techniques.
Melanie Moughton, Chief Executive Officer at Felix Fund, said: “We can’t overstate the strength of this cycling team and the significance of this tour to our charity. They’re all people of exceptional ability and courage who, I hope, will receive the full support of the public as they pass through towns and cities along the way.”
Every member of the Tour de Troops team belongs to the 11 EOD Regiment RLC (Royal Logistic Corps). They’re hoping for a lot of support on their journey and would love for people to donate generously by visiting their JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tourdestroops.
The Tour de Troops breaks down into 11 key stages:
Day 1 – Edinburgh to Alnwick:
- Departing at 7am on 12/06/2017 – Craigiehall, West Lothian, Edinburgh, EH30 9TN.
- Overnighting at Alnwick Reserve Centre.
- Arriving at approximately 3.30pm on 13/06/2017 – Army Reserve Centre, Duke of Northumberland Barracks, Lisburn Terrace, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1LA
Day 2 – Alnwick to Catterick
- Departing at 7am on 13/06/2017 – Army Reserve Centre, Duke of Northumberland Barracks, Lisburn Terrace, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1LA
- Arriving at approximately 4.10pm – Piave Lines, Leyburn Road, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, DL9 3LP
Day 3 – Catterick to Chester:
- Departing at 7am on 14/06/2017 – Piave Lines, Leyburn Road, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, DL9 3LP.
- Arriving at approximately 4.40pm on 14/06/2017 – The Dale Barracks, Liverpool Road, Chester, CH2 4BD.
Day 4 – Chester to Nottingham:
- Departing at 7am on 15/06/2017 – The Dale Barracks, Liverpool Road, Chester, CH2 4BD.
- Arriving at approximately 1.45pm on 15/06/2017 – Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, Nottingham, NG9 5HA.
Day 5 – Nottingham to Ashchurch
- Departing at 7am on 16/06/2017 – Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, Nottingham, NG9 5HA.
- Arriving at approximately 1.45pm on 16/06/2017 – St Barbara’s Barracks, Ashchurch, Gloucestershire, GL20 8LZ.
Day 6 – Ashchurch to Tidworth (via Didcot)
- Departing at 8.00am on 17/06/2017 – St Barbara’s Barracks, Ashchurch, Gloucestershire, GL20 8LZ.
- Arriving in Didcot at approximately 12.30pm on 17/06/2017 – Vauxhall Barracks, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7ES. Departing again at 13.30pm.
- Arriving in Tidworth at approximately 3.30pm on 17/06/2017 – Brimstone Compound, Assaye Barracks, Tidworth, Wiltshire SP9 7AB.
Day 7 – Tidworth to Aldershot
- Departing at 7am on 18/06/2017 – Brimstone Compound, Assaye Barracks, Tidworth, Wiltshire SP9 7AB.
- Arriving at approximately 10.45am on 18/06/2017 – Provost Barracks, Maida Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 2DN.
Day 8 – Aldershot to Colchester (via Northolt)
- Departing at 7am on 19/06/2017 – Provost Barracks, Maida Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 2DN.
- Arriving in Northolt at approximately 9.30am on 19/06/2017 – Northolt, West End Road, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 6NG. Departing again at 11am.
- Arriving in Colchester at approximately 4.40pm on 19/06/2017 – Merville Barracks, Colchester, Essex CO2 7UT.
Day 9 – Colchester to Shorncliffe
- Departing at 7am on 20/06/2017 – Merville Barracks, Colchester, Essex CO2 7UT.
- Arriving at approximately 3pm on 20/06/2017 – Napier Barracks, Shorncliffe Camp, Folkestone CT20 3EZ.
Day 10-15 – Shorncliffe to Bielefeld
- Departing at 7am on 22/06/2017 – Napier Barracks, Shorncliffe Camp, Folkestone CT20 3EZ.
- Arriving on 25/06/2017 – Rochdale Barracks, BFPO 39, Germany.
Felix Fund serves Dog Handlers, Searchers, Drivers, Infantry Escorts, Electronic Counter Measures Operators, Ammunition Technical Officers, Weapons Intelligence Specialists, Royal Air Force Bomb Disposal, Royal Naval Clearance Divers, the Royal Engineers and SO15 (Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism).
The charity meets its charitable objectives by:
- providing financial assistance and welfare support during times of need
- providing financial assistance and welfare to the families of those who have lost their lives, been injured or fallen on hard times
- promoting wellbeing in the EOD community
- commemorating and sustaining the memories and sacrifices made by EOD personnel who have lost their lives in course of their duty.