Thursday, 20 June 2019

RAF men cycle to Paris in aid of forces children’s charity

RAF men cycle to Paris in aid of forces children’s charity

THREE air traffic controllers from RAF Benson cycled from the base to Paris for charity.

Sdn Ldr Si Stait, Fl Sgt Jon Burt-Matthews and Sgt Ian Emery completed the 206-mile journey in 46 hours.

They rode to the South Coast to catch a ferry across the Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe, had three hours’ sleep at a hotel and then continued on to the French capital, finishing at the Arc de Triomphe.

They raised about £1,600 for Little Troopers, which supports children with one or both parents serving in the armed forces, regular or reserve.

The three men have five children between.

Flt Sgt Burt-Matthews, 36, and his wife Jen, a teacher at Gillotts School in Henley, live at the base with their sons Harry, four, and William, one.

Last year he and Harry took an expedition to Snowdon for service personnel and their families and supporters.

He said: “You have sympathy for what the forces’ kids go through because of what their parents do for work.”

The three men prepared for the Paris ride by going on training rides of up to 40 miles.

Flt Sgt Burt-Matthews said: “We made sure we could cover a bit of distance and when things started to hurt a bit we adjusted the pace and encouraged and motivated each other through it.

“It went pretty much exactly as we had planned and expected. Si was an absolute machine and would disappear off in front and wait for us to catch up to him. The hardest thing was having a break at Newhaven as I was thinking ‘I’m really tired now, we have done well and we have got the same distance to go again’.

“We cycled through Paris in the nice, warm evening sun and as we went round the last corner we saw the Arc de Triomphe in the glowing evening light and there was a sense of achievement. I was ecstatic.”

He thanked their support team, Sgt Emery’s wife Suzy and their friend Trudi Larner, and everyone who sponsored them.

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