Afghanistan veteran with medals and child
27 June 2014

A 'Top Gear' send off for a heroes rally

Dedicated drivers take on the rally of their lives for the heroes who gave theirs. The drivers were waved off from the BBC Top Gear track by Vicki from Fifth Gear and Danny-Boy from Eastenders.

A 'Top Gear' send off for a heroes rally for SSAFA

The track at Dunsfold Park, home of BBC TV’s Top Gear, was the start point for this year’s 3,000 mile Rally for Heroes, which aims to raise £100,000 for the UK’s longest-serving military charity, SSAFA.

Over 100 participants set off from Dunsfold Park on at 1pm today, Friday 27 June – the day before this year’s Armed Forces Day – and will return on Saturday 5 July.

Vicki Butler-Henderson, the presenter from TV’s Fifth Gear, was the official flag waver at the start line. Eastenders actor, Danny-Boy Hatchard, who plays army soldier Lee Carter, also attended to show his support to the military community.

Every five miles of the rally will be driven in honour of the 453 servicemen and women who have died since the start of the conflict in Afghanistan, reflecting SSAFA’s role in offering specialist support to families of those who have been killed or injured in recent conflicts.

The track, which has been driven by endless stars and professionals alike, hosted over 50 cars before they set off on an eight-day driving challenge across 11 European different countries, navigating some of the most demanding driving routes in the world.

Joining the line-up was ex-Army Paratrooper, Jamie Hull, who suffered severe burns and injuries when he was forced to jump out of a burning aircraft that he was flying whilst carrying out a routine solo training flight in America.

Jamie spent over two years battling his injuries, enduring six months in a coma, nine months in intensive care and a further 15 months in a special burns unit.

Throughout his recovery, Jamie and his Mum, Shirley, were supported by SSAFA, so when the opportunity to take part in a fundraising rally for SSAFA came up, Jamie didn’t have to think twice.

“When I found out Rally for Heroes was in aid of SSAFA, I was immediately interested. The connection became a personal one for me.”

“They dealt with the little things for my mum, so she could focus on the big things. She spent full days at my bedside; she was all I had, she was my rock but it was only because SSAFA was there for her, that she was able to be there for me. It’s only now I realise what a profound effect that had on me and my recovery.”

Benn Laidler, co-founding member and Army Warrant Officer, said: “The Rally for Heroes organising team and the participants are all volunteers who are drawn to this event by the sheer excitement and adventure of a rally. Their personal commitment means that 100% of the money they raise will help continue the vital work that SSAFA does with the entire military family.”

Jim Morrison, from SSAFA, also taking part in the Rally, said: “The Rally for Heroes team, just like our Armed Forces, are ordinary people doing something extraordinary for a cause they believe in. Together, SSAFA and Rally for Heroes are embarking on a journey to ensure that those who are no longer with us are never forgotten.”

Jim McAllister, Chief Executive of Dunsfold Park, also commented: “We are delighted to be supporting Rally for Heroes again by donating our famous track to launch their epic fundraising journey. We wish all the participants a safe and successful trip.”

To show your support for hero Jamie Hull - and the SSAFA rally team - text ‘JRFH75 £5’ to 70070 and donate £5 or visit their fundraising page.