The Royal Navy warship HMS Sutherland has joined forces with comedian Jim Davidson to help veteran service personnel with a charity cycle ride from Plymouth to Scotland and back.
A team of eight sailors, including the ship’s captain Commander Stephen Anderson, began a 1,600 –mile ride from the ship in HM Naval Base, Devonport, Plymouth, to Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland in aid of Care after Combat.
Mr Davidson chairs the charity which supports veterans of the Arms, Royal Navy and RAF who have fallen on hard times. He started the tough ride alongside the warship and said: “The charity is only new. We started six months ago. So we are extremely flattered the crew of HMS Sutherland are doing this really gruelling ride. It’s amazing and a really god start for us. It makes complete sense for the Armed Forces to be helping their former colleagues indirectly in this way. I’m in awe that anyone could cycle for a week. It shows the stuff our armed forces are made of.’’
Commander Anderson said: “This is a real challenge for us all taking part – a real test for all the lads. It’s great that the senior non-commissioned ratings on board are setting a good example to those junior ratings and others. This event comes after the ship has been in a major refit and is therefore, ideal timing for team-building as we all reform as a ship’s company and begin training as a fighting unit with the ship undergoing trials later.’’
Care After Combat ensures former soldiers, airmen and sailors who have been laid low by various issues, including alcoholism can get back on their feet and create better futures for themselves. The mission statement is ‘to help to maintain and promote camaraderie in the veterans community for those feeling vulnerable or at unrest with society. We look to provide professional assistance where possible for the well-being of the Veteran and their family.’
The ride will take place continuously with two riders cycling at anyone time for several hours before being replaced by two more on a shift basis. Their colleagues will rest in the accompanying support van until they all spend one night having a well deserved rest in Scotland before returning to the ship on the same route.
Other riders are Chief Petty Officers Dale Chilton, Andrew Brennan, Gavin Tuach, Huw Hannaford and Gareth Morris with Warrant Officers Glynn Higgins and Tim Cox.
The team are collecting funds for Care After Combat. Donations are gratefully received via the following web site: (www.justgiving.com/CYCLING-HMSSUTH) and a cycle blog link: http://cacsuthcyclechallenge.weebly.com/