Trio to go the extra mile
Trio to go the extra mile

A trio of ex-servicemen are in training for an epic 1,400mile bike ride through Britain to raise thousands of pounds for their wounded comrades.

Former Royal Engineer Steve Craddock, from St Mary’s Island near Chatham, Naval veteran Lee Patmore, and retired Royal Marine Brian Kilgannon will cycle from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall in a bid to raise cash for Help for Heroes.

But when their feat begins on Monday May 1st, the former warriors will not be content with the challenge that has tested the mettle of cyclists for decades.

Instead of taking the usual 960-mile route through the western spine of Great Britain, Steve, Brian and Lee have set themselves the added challenge of visiting SEVEN military bases along the way.

These diversions will add almost 500 miles to the route and will mean cycling up hills, totalling a whopping 63,000ft – the equivalent of more than twice the height of Mount Everest.

This is a tough ask of anyone, let alone for Steve and Brian who both suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from their time in services and will be fighting their own mental demons along with the physical toll the route will take.

However, Steve and Brian will get inspiration from Lee who suffers from Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes heightened pain and extreme tiredness.

Lee, from Essex, a former Able Seaman, now mainly confined to a wheelchair, will take on this mammoth journey on a custom-made cycle he will power by his arms.

He works as a disability fitness instructor at Brentwood Leisure Centre. He qualified after completing several courses with Help For Heroes.

Lee said: “Steve will say that this ride is about me and my determination to complete it, but I feel that the ride is about team work. Steve is a good friend and a fellow veteran. We both have our illnesses adding barriers to life, but for me, as a team we can complete some amazing journeys and challenges.

“Brentwood Centre were the first to offer their support at the very start of the planning stage. It’s an amazing feeling to have my employer backing us in such a big way.”

Retired Sergeant Steve, who is a patron for local charity, Kent Sports Trust Foundation, said: I hope you can begin to appreciate the sheer effort, guts and determination that will be needed for Lee to complete this challenge.

“Lee will be in pain and discomfort the whole time. He will not know from one day to the next how his body is going to cope.

However, Lee has his Band of Brothers with him, and we will be doing whatever is needed to get him to complete this truly amazing challenge.

“It’s going to be tough but I am determined to make Lee’s dream come true.

“We are very grateful to Companies such as AC Goatham & Son; The Sun Newspaper for providing our team with support vehicles and to Gore Bike Wear for supplying our winter training and ride clothing.

“We are also indebted to our great friend and Help for Heroes Ambassador Jodie Kidd who is the Patron of our ride and will be joining us for several days.

“After reading our story, we hope you will feel that the aim of the ride is worthy of a donation. Anything you are able to donate will be greatly received and will ensure that Help for Heroes will be able to continue its important work with our wounded, sick and injured.”

Former Colour Sergeant Brian is no stranger to endurance cycling. He has already cycled from the most northerly part of mainland Britain to its most south westerly point via (as he puts it) ‘the easy route’.

And in 2006 he set a world cycling endurance record on an indoor turbo trainer, clocking up a staggering 1,017 miles in 60 hours.

Brian said: “I have volunteered to assist Lee and Steve in this epic ride, having cycled for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for the last twelve years. Since leaving the Marines I found that I had personal problems both mentally and physically therefore the thought of doing this challenge with Lee will also give me fulfilment.

“Having already cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats and hold a World record for distance riding I am fully aware the problems we are all going to face.”

Jodie Kidd, the high profile model, praised the trio for planning the epic ride.

She said: Help for Heroes’ motto is to inspire, enable and support. Stephen is inspirational in the fundraising work he does, as well as showing those with long-term mental issues can achieve incredible things.”

“As an ambassador for Help for Heroes, I’ve seen the remarkable work the charity does in enabling and supporting veterans to reclaim their lives.”

The general route would be:

  • John O’Groats.
  • Livingstone (Gore Bike Wear).
  • Catterick, North Yorkshire (Phoenix House).
  • Colchester, Essex (Chavase House).
  • Brentwood, Essex.
  • Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent.
  • Tidworth, Hampshire (Tedworth House).
  • Plymouth, Devon (Hasler Company).
  • Land’s End.

The Band of Brothers are hoping to complete the challenge within 30 days and are aiming to cover between 60 or 70 miles per day, with three rest days if required.

Check out their story:

To donate to Help For Heroes: