More than 40 people have already signed up to take part in the RAF Benevolent Fund charity Brompton Bike ride from Paris to London this September. In this blog, Air Vice Marshal Andy Turner explains why he decided to get involved.
Why have you decided to take part in the Brompton Bike Challenge?
It's a great idea to commemorate a pivotal moment in Britain's history, using a current iconic brand (the Brompton bike) to recognise another (the Battle of Britain heroes) - both capturing the spirit of 'great British excellence'.
What do you think of the challenge as an event?
I think it is a marvellous idea to link the two capitals in this way. 75 is the critical significance - years since that finest hour, leg lengths of the journey, number of riders and the target sum to be raised (£75,000).
How are you going to prepare for the leg which you will cycle?
I am not! Much like the pilots of the day, I am going to test myself without preparation and see if my mettle is anything like the bravest of the brave in their day. Either a bold or stupid plan!
Are you a keen cyclist/do you enjoy cycling?
No and no; that's why I am gripped by the challenge - we have got to continually test ourselves to ensure you don't lose that edge!
Do you think it will be a challenge to complete the ride on a Brompton bike?
The bike will be great and a real eye-catcher on the auto routes and motorways, but I am not sure how my backside will fair...!
What do you think about the work which the RAF Benevolent Fund does?
The RAF Benevolent Fund is a crucial part of the core RAF Family. The RAF is really busy, committed on operations in nearly every continent continuously since its birth in 1918. So the task of looking after servicemen and their families, veterans and retired warriors and their dependents is huge. Without the Fund, its fundraising, welfare work and facilities, we simply could not look after our people properly.
Why is it important to you to raise money for the Fund?
The service is as small as it has been for 80 years and yet the veteran numbers are nearly as big as they have ever been. The RAF Benevolent Fund is a charity and not government funded, it is vital to raise funds for it whenever we can. Now is as important a time as ever to do our bit wherever and whenever we can.
Have you been involved in any other fundraisers for the Fund?
I have raised funds for the Fund numerous times before - personally running several long distance runs, the US marine Corps Marathon, the Odiham 'pull a chinook' challenge, the Odiham '£10,000 in 10 minutes challenge and countless charity balls and raffles.
AVM Turner is a helicopter pilot of 30 years and has flown more than 5,000 flying hours on 19 operational tours all over the world. He is currently AOC 22 Gp and is responsible for the Air Training Corps, all basic, ground, technical and flying training and all sport in the RAF.