A TOUGH team of soldiers past and present showed their mettle during a gruelling mission to make as much money as possible for wounded heroes.
Team Sapper ditched their combat fatigues for some cycling shorts during their own Hero Ride – a 300-mile trek from Birmingham to London via Worcestershire which is expected to raise more than £20,000 for Help for Heroes.
The team made up of 10 ex-Royal engineers, two serving soldiers and one ex-Royal Navy man, took part in the Hero Ride which started from Fisher House in Birmingham and ended in London on Sunday where they received a rapturous reception from the crowds. There, they joined by 1,000 cyclists who rode from Paris to Blackheath for the charity.
The cash Team Sapper raised will be split between Fisher House, a home away from home for families of wounded servicemen at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, and Battle Back, the centre for adaptive training for servicemen who have lost limbs and suffered other injuries.
The first leg from Birmingham to Worcester began last Wednesday. They received a warm welcome at the Fold, Bransford, which laid on a curry evening with music. Indian food was prepared by chef David McCaw. The food was supplied by, among others, Cridlan and Walker, a Malvern butcher.
Team Sapper leader Gerry Taggart, a former lieutenant colonel in the Royal Engineers, of Upton Road, Powick, said: “A fantastic surprise was that Bella Seaton-Smith, who is 11 years old, the daughter of one of our team members, made some cup cakes with a Royal Engineer cap badge printed on them using rice paper. She raised £150 on the night.
“And the musical group, Clarion, played folk music from around the world. All five very professional musicians gave their time free.”
Morgan Motors also displayed a Morgan Three-wheeler after supporting the fund-raising dinner.
Harriett Baldwin, West Worcestershire MP, and her husband Jim attended to give support. Worcester’s MP Robin Walker has also backed the group.
After leaving Worcester, the team travelled to Didcot, where they were met by the head of the Army, chief of the general staff, General Sir Peter Wall, then to Lower Eashing near Godalming, where they were met by the whole village, and then to Chatham, home of the Royal Engineers.
On Sunday, the team met other cyclists and rode into London as part of the Help for Heroes main event of the year. Mr Taggart thanked “the generous people of Worcestershire, particularly the Fold” for their kindness.
People can still donate to bmycharity.com/teamsapper2013 or directly to helpforheroes.org.uk.