Soldier joins injured troops on charity trek

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A SADDLESORE former soldier has joined an army of injured troops on a punishing 350-mile charity cycle ride.

Mark O’Driscoll is riding with 34 wounded servicemen and 249 supporters across France, visiting the sites of First and Second World War battlefields.

“It’s been very tough,” said 45-year-old Mark, who now works in the civilian officer training corps. “I did plenty of preparation work, but I was struggling at times.

“But when you look at the dedication of the other riders, there is one guy doing it who is a triple amputee, it spurs you on.”

Money raised from the five-day Big Battlefield Bike Ride, which started from Portsmouth, will be donated to the Help for Heroes charity, with riders expected to average 75 miles a day.

“It’s such an amazing charity,” said dad-of-three Mark, from Newton Hall, near Durham City, who served in the Welsh Guards.

“It’s the first time I’ve done a fund-raiser on this scale, but it’s something I would definitely do it again.

“I’ve raised £4,200 so far and, when you look around at some of the other riders on the trip, you see the difference the charity makes.”

The Big Battlefield Bike Ride was the inaugural event for the charity, first held in 2008, and raised funds for the Surrey-based Headley Court Rehabilitation Complex, which helps service personnel rebuild their lives after being injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bryn Parry, who co-founded Help For Heroes with wife Emma, said: “That such a large crowd of people are cycling together, raising funds for Help for Heroes, is truly inspirational.”

“We are all here for one reason alone, and that is to support our wounded heroes on their road to recovery.

“We are very privileged to be cycling alongside some recovering wounded from both Britain and Canada, but we must remember that there are some for whom even getting up in the morning is a daily challenge.

“It is our duty to help them all.”

To make a donation, visit www.bmycharity.com and search for “Mark O’Driscoll”.

For more information about fundraising for Help For Heroes, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho