Saturday, 21 July 2018

Couple mark Battle of Britain with charity ride

A FORMER RAF pilot and his wife cycled from Paris to London to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

A FORMER RAF pilot and his wife cycled from Paris to London to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Steve and Claire McCann, of Old London Road, Benson, raised more than £4,500 for the RAF Benevolent Fund. The couple were among 52 riders who completed the 221-mile challenge on Brompton foldaway bicycles in four days.

Mr McCann, 39, came up with the idea of the challenge and persuded his 42-year-old wife, a clinical psychologist, to join him.

He said: ?The ride embodied the spirit of the Battle of Britain with everybody coming together, not just military people, a real cross-section of society.

There was a spirit of camaraderie that we had endured a challenge together while paying our respects and honouring the memory of the individual squadrons involved. I was emotional at the end. We were cheered from the moment we entered London.?

Mr McCann spent 10 years based at RAF Benson and served in Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the armed forces in October 2013.

He now works as a bid director for business management firm Capita in London and commutes to work by bicycle and train.

He said: ?I wanted to do something to reflect the Battle of Britain and the sacrifices that men made and for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which has always been close to my heart. I wanted to mark the anniversary in my own way and combine what I enjoy doing now, which is cycling, while trying to raise some funds.?

Among the other cyclists was Fl Lt Andrew McMaster, 31, a Puma pilot stationed at RAF Benson, who raised more than £1,500. He said: ?I think we all feel very proud to have completed this challenge. Sure it was hard work and the hills weren?t pleasant, but the team spirit made everything enjoyable.?

The riders were a mixture of RAF personnel and civilians who raised a total of more than £50,000.

Paul Hewson, regional director for the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: ?Without fund-raisers like these the fund would not be able to support the RAF family, serving and retired personnel, in the many ways we do.?

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