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Cycle to the Somme will remember those who perished in the battles of the First World War

Dave Bickel, left, and Les McCulloch are among a group taking part in a Ride to the Somme cycle to raise money for armed forces charity. Picture: Courtesy of Dave Bickle

Dave Bickel, left, and Les McCulloch are among a group taking part in a Ride to the Somme cycle to raise money for armed forces charity. Picture: Courtesy of Dave Bickle

Archant

While most soldiers who served in the First World War did so on foot, some were mounted in the saddles of bicycles.

One of the British Army's cycling battalions from the First World War. Picture: Archant LibraryOne of the British Army's cycling battalions from the First World War. Picture: Archant Library

And now four people from Attleborough are taking part in a ‘Ride to the Somme’ in memory of the British Army’s cycle battalions, including the 6th, which was part of the Norfolk Regiment.

And the 90-mile journey will raise money for Ssafa, a cause that former Royal Engineer Dave Bickel knows the value of all too well.

Mr Bickel had help from the armed forces charity after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an awful consequence of his 23 years’ service.

He said: “I was not sleeping, bad-tempered and angry to the point where I didn’t want to know anyone.

“The hardest thing is to stand up and say I do have a problem, and I did it and the support was absolutely brilliant.”

Mr Bickel will be joined by his wife Gillian, Leslie McCulloch and Karen Snowling, as well as more than 140 others from across the UK for the three-day ride from London to visit memorials and Commonwealth graves in France and Belgium.

Mr McCulloch, also an armed forces veteran, said: “Despite the fact that it’s 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele, there’s still something about the atmosphere of that location that makes it all come back.

“None of us have gone through what they went through at Passchendaele and the Somme but those that have served in conflicts over the years understand what its about, so it’s quite emotional.”

The Attleborough cyclists have already raised more than £5,00 towards the overall goal of £250,000. The group will visit sites including the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres, and the The Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval.

They plan to lay a wreath on behalf of Norfolk’s cycle battalion. The event follows a similar cycle held last year but this year twice as many cyclists are taking part.

Ssafa helps 60,000 people every year including many veterans who are out of work, suffering mentally or physically, or who are homeless.

Visit www.ridetothesomme.org.uk for more information about the cycle, and donations can be made online at www.ssafa.org.uk

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