Triumphant cheers and the ringing of 52 bike bells heralded the return of the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary bike riders on Saturday.
It was a spectacular sight as 52 Bromptons cycled down The Mall and into Wellington Barracks at the end of their 221-mile journey from Paris to London. The four-day challenge took in the rolling French countryside between Paris and Dieppe before the cyclists were put to the test over the hills of the South Downs and Surrey on their way into London.
Wg Cdr Steve Berry, OC 41 Squadron at Coningsby, said: “The thing that stood out most about the event is that it was a huge hotch potch of people who were all there for a common cause. We had serving, ex-serving, wives, cousins, sisters, daughters, sons, and a bunch of people who were just huge Brompton fans.
“We all had the same human spirit to face the challenge head on. The sort of human spirit that would have been on show 75 years ago.”
The riders were given a target of raising £1,000 each and so far more than £50,000 has been collected – an incredible total!
The riders cycled 221 miles, or 14,002,560 inches. A Brompton wheel is 51 inches in circumference - so that is 269,280 revolutions of the wheel.
Paul Hewson, Regional Director for the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “I would like to thank each and every rider who rose to the challenge of raising £1,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and cycled for four days! The dedication, good humour and camaraderie of the team carried them the 221 miles from Paris to London.
“Without fundraisers like these the RAF Benevolent Fund would not be able to support the RAF family, serving and retired personnel, in the many ways that we do. I would also like to express my thanks to our incredible sponsors, in particular Thales UK and Brompton Bicycle.”
The ride was timed to coincide with the national commemoration of the Battle of Britain, which takes place at Westminster Abbey on Sunday. It was supported by specialist cycling tour providers Ride25 who worked with the RAF Benevolent Fund to provide everything the riders needed. There were nearly 3,000 aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain from more than 70 Squadrons. The cost of the battle was high – 544 lost their lives and a further 814 died before the end of the War.