Giftware Association chief completes Help for Heroes bike ride

isabel martinsonA soldier who lost his legs and right arm in a Taliban bomb blast inspired GA chief executive Isabel Martinson to complete the 429-mile Big Battlefield Bike Ride from Paris to London.

Isabel, who served in the Royal Navy, met Corporal Josh Boggi on the train to the French capital where they joined 300 other riders for the latest fund-raising effort – which took place from Tuesday, May 28 to Sunday, June 2 – on behalf of Help for Heroes.

She commented: “Josh is the most amazing guy – incredibly positive.  He told me that he was grateful to be alive. After being blown up, he ‘died’ twice on the way home from Afghanistan and was revived. He went on to complete this ride on a hand bike – doing the same number of miles as the other riders: seeing him climb some of the hills was awesome. Such gumption against all the odds puts your own position in perspective; it helps you to re-evaluate your priorities and life in general.”

Among those also waved off by the Duchess of Cornwall from Paris was Jon Allan –Butterworth, who won three silver medals at the London Paralympics.

The journey took riders to the Somme and World War I and World War II battlefields. They laid wreaths at military cemeteries and also visited Agincourt, scene of Henry V’s victory over the French.

From Le Touquet they cycled to Calais and took the ferry to Dover. They then rode to Chatham and onward to London, meeting up at Blackheath with a thousand other riders who had journeyed from various parts of the country. These included former GA chairman Michael Sweeney, who was one of a group of around 70 that had set off from Birmingham on May 30.

Together they cycled through the streets of the capital to Whitehall, laying a wreath at the National Monument to the Women of World War II. They then moved on to Buckingham Palace and the Mall, riding in formation in different coloured T-shirts to replicate the shape and colours of the Help for Heroes medal and ribbon.

Isabel’s ride has so far raised over £3,000 for the charity. If you would like to make a donation, please visit the website.