RALLY FOR HEROES GET SET TO DRIVE ACROSS EUROPE FOR SSAFA
Serving personnel and veterans from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF are preparing to tackle a challenging drive across Europe alongside civilians from all walks of life, in memory of those killed in Afghanistan and to raise £100,000 for SSAFA the Armed Forces charity.
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United by a love of cars and a desire to support our Armed Forces 120 people in 60 vehicles will drive 3,000 miles across Europe in the Rally for Heroes - a biennual event that’s been raising money for British Forces Charities since 2010.
This year’s rally leaves from the home of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth on Friday 5 August 2016. Ex-RAF Pilot and England Rugby veteran Rory Underwood will drop the flag, in front of HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, sending the drivers on their epic eight-day adventure.
The rally, which drives a clockwise route around Europe, takes in many famous locations. After leaving Portsmouth they travel to Brussels, Basel and Turin with a stop-over at the site of the old fiat factory featured in The Italian Job. Then on to Monaco, home to a World Rally Championship Stage, driving the legendary Col De Turini Mountain pass. Then off to Girona where the TV hit drama Games of Thrones is filmed and across the Pyrenees before finishing in Le Mans.
Rally for Heroes Director, Army Sergeant, Mick Clark who is based at Regimental HQ in Catterick Garrison came up with the idea whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2010. What started as an idea for a post-operational tour lad’s weekend soon gained traction as a fundraising event. In partnership with fellow Director Army Warrant Officer 2 Benn Laidler, Rally for Heroes has gone from strength to strength raising in excess of £300,000 for SSAFA, The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.
Mick remains a key player running the event alongside fellow directors Royal Navy Commander Steve Shaw, based at Navy Command HQ in Portsmouth and Army Warrant Officer 2 Benn Laidler, 1 Regiment Army Corp based at RNAS Yeovilton.
Commander Steve Shaw said: “This is the third event I have been involved with and we’re all really looking forward to the launch in August. We are like a big family, once you have done Rally for Heroes it gets into your blood and you want to stay involved. The whole team’s driven by wanting to support serving personnel, veterans and their families and SSAFA is a great charity that does exactly that. The team have been fundraising hard and the generosity from our sponsors and the general public has been outstanding.”
A specially commissioned shell-case, bearing the names of those who died in the Afghanistan campaign, will travel with the rally in memory of the sacrifice made by so many.
Cdr Shaw added: ‘We have held a memorial on every trip remembering all those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, it acts as a poignant reminder to us all why we’re there. This year The Chaplain of the Fleet will hold a short service of remembrance on board HMS Victory before we leave and we will be carrying the shell case with us for the first time.”
Participants cover the cost of the trip themselves meaning 100% of funds raised go to SSAFA.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force including reservists, and their families. Each year, its professional staff and network of more than 7,000 volunteers help some 60,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.
Support them by making a donation on their fundraising page and wave them off at the launch at 10 am on Friday 5 August in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.