To honour the soldiers who fell at the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, Alan Spencer and his team will be cycling 100km across Flanders to pay their respects.
This year marks the centenary of the costly First World War battles of Arras, Messines, Passchendaele, sometimes known as the Third Battle of Ypres and Cambria.
Today, in the surrounding battlefields, there are more military cemeteries than anywhere else in the world, such were the accumulation of losses in the Ypres Salient during the four years of war. Of the great Allied cemeteries, the largest is at Tyne Cot where 11,961 soldiers lie buried and another 36,000 with no known graves are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Ton honour the ultimate sacrifice taken by our predecessors, Alan aims to hand cycle 100km across the battlefields alongside his son and two fellow veterans who are housed by Haig Housing. The team wishes to raise £1 for each soldier buried at Tyne Cot with the aim of raising £11,961 overall for Haig Housing’s fundraising campaign, Coming Home. The Coming Home campaign provides adapted housing for seriously injured, wounded and ill veterans.
An aspect which makes this challenge all the more extraordinary and moving is Alan’s severe mental and mobility difficulties. Due to his disabilities, Alan relies on his mobility scooter and hand tricycle to move around. Far from being deterred by these difficulties, Alan has been training hard for the challenge and has been fundraising for Haig Housing for many years. Most recently, Alan, his family and friends completed the Challenge last year to honour the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, by which they raised over £10,000 for the Coming Home campaign.
Alan said of this upcoming challenge; ‘I thought it would be both appropriate and poignant to undertake another hand cycle to raise funds for Coming Home, the Haig Housing Trust’s fundraising campaign, to help house severely wounded ex-servicemen and women from more recent conflicts, many of whom now live with the same conditions and injuries which our forbearers did a century ago’.
The team will be cycling their ‘Pilgrimage to Passchendaele’ on 1st July 2017.
If you would like to donate to this extraordinary cause, please donate via the team’s JustGiving page.
To read the team’s leaflet, please read: Old & Bold Battlefield Challenge: A Pilgrimage to Passchendaele.
We wish Alan, Harry, Mark and Dave the very best of luck!