Cycle relay through Romford supporting Help for Heroes

John Burns and friends

Left to right: Peter O’Rourke, Paul Smith Allen, Jules Adcock, Liam Flannigan Todd, and John Burns - Credit: John Burns

An Upminster man is organising a 1228-mile charity cycle relay from John O'Groats in north Scotland to Cornwall’s Land's End (JOGLE).

Former army chef John Burns is one of a team coordinating the charity event to fundraise for Help for Heroes, which supports wounded veterans and their families.

The relay will take place from August 28 to September 18, and participants can cycle any part of the route - which will pass through Hornchurch and Brentwood on September 11.

John, who served in the Armed Forces during the 1990s, told the Recorder: “I feel I was fortunate to serve when I did, and this is my way of helping the guys who came after me in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We just want to raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

He stressed the event is not just for military personnel and invited everyone to take part in their local area.

“The camaraderie on the ride will get you through any tough climbs and listening to the stories of the beneficiaries is always very humbling,” he added.

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“It’s a great atmosphere and an experience you won’t forget.”

The idea for the relay came about when Help for Heroes ambassador Steve Craddock cycled from his home in Kent to Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum to fundraise for the charity.

Steve was joined along his journey by riders and friends wanting to support him, and John hopes others will be inspired to get involved this year.

The volunteers are also hoping to attend Sanders School - soon to once again be Sanders Draper School - on September 11 and lay a wreath to commemorate Second World War spitfire pilot Raimund Sanders Draper.

He steered his plane away from the school when his engine failed in March 1943, crashing instead into a nearby field and saving students and staff.

Help for Heroes helps people who leave the armed forces and those still serving recover from both physical and psychological wounds, and receives most of its funding from donations.

John will be spreading the word at Romford Market over the coming weeks, and you can find out more about the JOGLE fundraiser here: