Riders gather in capital to boost Help for Heroes

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More than 1,300 cyclists took to the streets of central London yesterday in aid of Armed Forces charity Help for Heroes.

The Hero Ride saw hundreds of organised bike rides from around the country meeting in Blackheath, south-east London before travelling together to the finish line at Horse Guards Parade.

Some 300 fundraisers arrived from Paris, having set off from the French capital with the support of the Duchess of Cornwall.

A Dawn Raid challenge involved 250 cyclists leaving the Tedworth House Recovery Centre in the garrison town of Tidworth, Wiltshire, at 2am yesterday to embark on a 90-mile journey to London.

And over 150 wounded veterans and service personnel paused to pay their respects at the Monument to the Women of the Second World War before riding in formation along The Mall.

The event is expected to raise around £1m for Help for Heroes, which will provide support for those who have suffered injuries in recent conflicts, as well as their families.

Singer James Blunt took part in the challenge, while road cyclist Mark Cavendish and his model fiancée Peta Todd gave their support to the participants as they completed their rides.

Blunt, who was an officer in the Life Guards and served in Kosovo before taking up a music career, said: “For me the most inspiring thing was seeing at the very front of the peloton a group of our wounded soldiers.

“Rather than me with my two arms and two legs on my bicycle, some of them are missing one or two or three limbs, and still they’ve been the fastest and the fittest and the guys with the biggest smiles on their faces.”

The 39-year-old went on to praise the work done by Help for Heroes.

“We send our soldiers away to represent us as a nation to try to bring peace and stability to other people’s countries as best they can,” he said.

“In doing so some of them have given their lives and some have lost limbs and suffered incredible injuries."