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War hero’s widow does the honours
THE widow of a decorated captain who served with distinction in the Second World War has presented awards to a tough team of cyclists who soldiered on to raise money for wounded heroes.
Dorothy Applebee, aged 91, of Powick, near Worcester, is something of a heroine herself, having worked at Bletchley Park, the legendary Allied codebreaking centre during the war. Her late husband, Captain Fred Applebee of the Essex Regiment, won the distinguished conduct medal in 1942 when he was a sergeant during the North African campaign.
Her military pedigree and passion for the fund-raising efforts of Team Sapper made her the natural choice for presenting awards to the tough squad of soldiers and ex-soldiers who ditched their combat fatigues for cycling shorts to raise £20,000 for Help for Heroes. Mrs Applebee presented trophies to team members during a ceremony at the village.
As previously reported in the Worcester News, Team Sapper are a group of soldiers past and present, mainly ex-Royal Engineers, who had to use their military mettle during an epic 300-mile cycle ride called ‘the Hero Ride’ from Fisher House in Birmingham to Blackheath in London last month where they joined 1,000 other cyclists riding in from Paris. The money, in aid of Help for Heroes, will be split between two good causes – Fisher House, a home away from home for families of wounded soldiers treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and Battle Back, the centre for adaptive training for servicemen who have lost limbs and suffered other injuries.
Rick Allen, of Worcester St John’s Cycling Club, was presented with the leadership award while Ian Seward and Ashley Powell received an award for the invaluable support they gave to the endeavour. Former Royal Engineers Lieutenant-Colonel Gerry Taggart, of Upton Road, Powick, of Team Sapper, said: “We felt that we should recognise both leadership and back-up support. “Due to his huge efforts to find routes, reconnoitre them and then lead the team in a disciplined and safe way, our leadership award goes to Rick Allen. “Without the support of Ian Seward our team would simply not have managed the journey.”
Mr Taggart has already attended the official opening of Fisher House and hopes to visit Battle Back at Lilleshall in September to hand over the £10,000 to them.
Team Sapper plans another big ride next year but the route has yet to be decided.