It was a great honour to be asked to plan and lead the route for the Rugby for Heroes charity cycle ride which this year raised £12000, writes WO1 Shaun Broom
This year’s event began on 29 Aug 2018 and took in 300 miles over three days from Calais to Laon, stopping off at key World War One memorial sites such as Ypres, Vimy Ridge and Thiepval to lay wreaths.
The event coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Great War and this year the Royal British Legion (RBL) helped with backing the team.
The team consisted of WO1 (SSM) Shaun Broom (Lead cyclist), WO1 (SSM) Erling Davies (2IC cyclist), WO1 (RSM) Andrew Barthram, WO2 (SQMS) Mark Underdown, Colin Osbourne (Vet) & Mike Tindall MBE and the support crew Tony Stanton, David Hamilton (Physios) and Pete McCarthy (Medic).
The route crossed over many parts of the battlefront of the Somme; to this day you can still see reminders of the Great War, with unexploded ordnance placed at the side of the roads by farmers waiting to be collected by the French EOD.
We arrived at Thiepval with a steep hill climb to finish, here we received a battlefield tour on the sacrifice that Commonwealth and British soldiers paid on this part of the battlefield. We laid wreaths in remembrance of the soldiers that lost their lives and paid respect to the rugby players that paid the ultimate sacrifice.
We finally arrived in Compiegne to a welcoming crowd made up of the Mayor of Compiegne, our rugby team, Compiegne rugby team and many locals.
The ride was finished off with a rugby match between the Rugby for Heroes team and the Compiegne rugby club, which ended in a well-deserved draw.
I would like to say a thank you to our support team Tony, Dave and Pete for their help and support for the duration of the ride, also the rugby players that supported us throughout.
Rugby for Heroes is a small charity that assists soldiers in their transition from military to civilian life by offering free rugby coaching courses and training.