It was British engineered and built Spitfires that propelled the RAF to victory in the Battle of Britain 75 years ago, and today it is British engineered and built Brompton bikes that will take a team of 75 cyclists from Paris to London in a bid to raise £75,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
The 75 riders, who will pedal from the Les Invalides military hospital in central Paris to Buckingham Palace in just four days, will be doing it in memory of the brave young men who took to the skies each day to defend our freedom.
There were nearly 3,000 aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain from more than 70 Squadrons. The cost of the Battle was high – 544 lost their lives and a further 814 died before the end of the War.
Director of Fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund, Mike Neville, said: "It is rather fitting that an icon of British design such as the Brompton bike should be involved in our commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain. It would be incredible if the riders raised £75,000 to help fund the work which the Fund does to support the RAF family."
Helicopter pilot Flt Lt Andrew McMaster has already registered for the Brompton Bicycle Challenge. He said: "I've been able to see the great work that the RAF Benevolent Fund has done for families on stations where I've worked so I'm proud that I have the opportunity to raise money for the charity.
"I can't say I'm a keen cyclist. I can ride a bike but that is as far as my achievements in the cycling world currently stretch, so I have a fair bit of training to do."
This is not the first time folding bikes have been deployed in France. During World Wars One and Two, paratroopers jumped out of aircraft carrying folding bikes to use on the ground.
Brompton Bicycle CEO Will Butler-Adams OBE said: "We are very excited to be supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund for this exciting event. The Fund does incredible work supporting the serving and retired RAF community and this was definitely something we wanted to be involved in. In the skies the RAF is as British as it gets, in our cities the Brompton flies the flag. So it is no surprise that to celebrate this great challenge we decided to create a limited edition red, white and blue RAF Benevolent Brompton bike!"
Brompton bikes are all custom-made from the factory in Kew, West London. Each cyclist will be provided with a Brompton bike if they do not own one. There will also be the chance to buy the limited edition RAF Benevolent Fund bike.
Each of the participants will be required to raise a minimum of £1,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund. More than 30 cyclists have already signed up for the ride which will take place from September 8 to 12.
The battle for air superiority lasted for three months between July and September of 1940 and proved to be a turning point in World War Two, preventing Germany’s invasion of Britain.
The funds raised will go towards supporting the work of the RAF Benevolent Fund. The Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity providing financial, practical and emotional support to all members of the Royal Air Force family, from the youngest child to the oldest veteran.