From Ride to the Somme to SSAFA volunteer
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Sarah Thyer, one of West Glamorgan's newest volunteer recruits shares the story of how she developed a passion for SSAFA through completing Ride to the Somme in her own words:
'I started cycling in February 2016 with the Action Bikes Ladies Cycling Club in Swansea. Always one for trying something new and after much nagging by the club owner Richard Smith I turned up in totally unsuitable kit and borrowed a bike and helmet. I soon learned that correct padded pants and warm clothing were essential for this new hobby! Still I persevered despite a few classic falls to cycling 40 miles in eight weeks. So thrilled with my achievement I bought my first road bike which it is now kept in my house and looked after like a new baby!
With my confidence growing weekly I was out riding in another charity bike ride around the Gower I started having a discussion with one of my fellow newbies during a water stop and persuaded her to sign up with me for The Ride to The Somme. I sold it pretending it would be just a few days wandering around France in the sun - little did we know how physically and emotionally rewarding it was going to be. Luckily some of the other Swansea riders signed up too. The ride was planned to commemorate the cycling soldiers who fought and fell during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It was a 200 mile ride over three days culminating in a very emotional service at the Thiepval Memorial of the Missing which marks the 72,000 British and African soldiers with no known graves.
I was honoured to ride with over 50 men and women for all over the UK, some of whom were former servicemen. The focus was to raise funds for SSAFA and very proud to say over £100k has been raised so far. On my return I wanted to continue to support SSAFA and paid a visit to the offices at SSAFA West Glamorgan and was welcomed by the Branch Chairman David Singletary and wife Linda who explained the work they do locally. I am now very proud to be on board as a volunteer and assist in any fundraising. I look forward to this and also The Ride to The Somme in September 2017. This ride will take us the same distance but we will be visiting Passchendaele and Arras and raising funds for SSAFA. If you want a challenge come and join us - it is journey you will never forget.'