10:30AM, Thursday 24 October 2019
‘Dunkirk spirit’ spurred on a group of Maidenhead firefighters during a 200-kilometre (124-mile) charity bike ride last week.
Blue Watch set-off on the Remembrance Ride for the Fallen from Maidenhead Fire Station last Monday, October 14.
The destination of their four-day trip was The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, where the group took part in The Last Post ceremony and laid a wreath.
So far the group has raised almost £3,000 to be shared between the Fire Fighters Charity, which supports past and present members of the UK’s fire services, and the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.
The crew were due to embark on the journey after they clocked-off from a night shift on Monday morning, but got slightly waylaid after attending a last-minute shout.
Kevin Wood, known as ‘Woody’, is one of the firefighters who took on the challenge.
He said: “We had a delayed start to our trip due to attending a car crash at 8.45am, just 15 minutes before the end of our shift on Monday morning.”
He added: “This meant we missed our booked ferry and had to take a later one.”
The delay meant the crew missed out on cycling time on the first leg of their journey and had to cycle further on the remaining days to make up the 200km target.
Woody said: “One or two of the team weren’t as fit but had the Dunkirk spirit and kept pedalling and got through it.”
On their way the group visited dozens of cemeteries and ‘were moved emotionally’.
“You just looked over the fields and it was an absolute quagmire,” said Woody.
“We couldn’t imagine walking over the fields, let alone carrying a backpack which weighed 66 pounds, plus rifle and ammunition.”
Another thing that struck the firefighters was the standard at which the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), based in Maidenhead, honours the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars.
“We were overwhelmed by the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,” he said.
“The lawn was manicured, there were flowers growing along the graves and there was ongoing work repairing the walls and keeping everything in perfect condition.”
The firefighters are grateful to their sponsors who have helped enable them to raise the money.
They include Slough-based business Sword Services, which manages critical infrastructure and Decathlon sports shop in High Wycombe.
To make a donation go to www.justgiving.com/ teams/200kforthefallen
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