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.
Ammunition Technician, Daniel King, is based at Catterick in North Yorkshire. A family man with three daughters, Daniel has toured to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan on many occasions. He’s an advanced bomb disposal operator hoping fans of the Tour de Yorkshire will follow him through the county.
The distance between the Edinburgh Troop (EH30 9TN) and Catterick Garrison (DL9 3LP) is around 200 miles. On June 12th, the team will cross the Scottish–English border near Berwick-upon-Tweed before slipstreaming down the east coast. They will overnight in Alnwick, cross the Tyne and move onto Sunderland before turning inland and arriving at Catterick Garrison at approximately 2pm on June 13th.
Rob Morgan’s base is at Chilwell near Nottingham. He has toured Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as an Ammunition Technician and is now a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer. As a member of a local cycling club, he’s hoping to have a lot of support from his fellow riding community.
Rob and his teammates will leave The Dale Barracks in Chester (CH2 4BD) and head south-east toward the midlands on June 15th. Never straying too far from the Trent and Mersey River, the riders hope to arrive at the Chetwynd Barracks in Nottingham (NG9 5HA) at approximately 1.45pm.
Chris Macneil, an Ammunition Technician based at Ashchurch near Tewkesbury, will reach his base at almost the half-way stage of the journey. Chris has completed tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan and continues to travel worldwide as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer.
Leaving Chilwell in Nottingham (NG9 5HA) on June 16th, Chris and the team will cycle approximately 100 miles past Birmingham, between Worcester and Stratford-upon-Avon, and arrive at St Barbara’s Barracks in Ashchurch (GL20 8LZ) at approximately 1.45pm.
Ashley Manning is an Officer based at Didcot. He’s an Ammunition Technician with a taste for endurance sport. Having cycled the Land’s End to John O’Groats route before, Ashley is keen to push himself even further on the saddle with the support of the town in this special event.
On June 17th, Ashley and the team will make the journey from Ashchurch (St Barbara’s Barracks, GL20 8LZ) to Didcot (Vauxhall Barracks, OX11 7ES), passing through the Chiltern Hills and climbing thousands of feet on the peddles. The small peloton, having covered almost the entire length of England by this stage, is likely to arrive in Didcot at 11am before setting off in the afternoon to Tidworth in Wiltshire (Brimstone Compound, Assaye Barracks, SP9 7AB).
Joseph Donaldson, originally from Crewe, is based at the tour’s final city of Bielefeld in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region of Germany. As a member of his garrison’s cycling team, Joseph’s knowledge of the area will surely prove helpful as the finish line approaches.
The distance between the final two bases, at almost 400 miles, is enormous. The team will leave the Shorncliffe Troop (CT20 3EZ) on June 22nd and travel over the English Channel to Dunkirk. Once back on the saddle, they will go through France, Belgium, The Netherlands and into Germany for an arrival in Bielefeld on June 25th.
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 & 2 – Edinburgh to Catterick (via Alnwick):
- Departing at 7am on 12/06/2017 – Craigiehall, West Lothian, Edinburgh, EH30 9TN.
- Overnighting at Alnwick Reserve Centre.
- Arriving at approximately 2pm on 13/06/2017 – 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 4.30pm 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 6.30am on 17/06/2017 – St Barbara’s Barracks, Ashchurch, Gloucestershire, GL20 8LZ.
- Arriving in Didcot at approximately 11am on 17/06/2017 – Vauxhall Barracks, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7ES. Departing again at 12.30pm.
- 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 4.30pm 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.