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Cyclist prepares for Paris to London – on a Brompton!

Richard McDermott, of Greatford, will tackle the 240-mile challenge raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. He is among more than 50 cyclists who have signed up to take part in the Battle of Britain Paris to London Brompton Bike Ride this September.

His grandfather Thomas McNerney, now 97, served in the RAF as an engineer, one of the "backroom boys", fitting engines for Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft during the Second World War and having served across England as well as in North Africa and Italy.

Richard McDermottRichard McDermott with his children Harry and Jemima

Richard said: "My grandfather is an Irish national and Ireland's neutrality during the Second World War meant that it was not an automatic decision to sign up for military service in the RAF but he did so anyway. He recognised the importance of what he was doing and that part of his past is what has inspired me to do the ride.

"It is important that we look back and recognise the sacrifice people made during the Second World War, the personal risk they put themselves through and the impact that this then had on them and their families' lives.  It is also crucial that organisations like the RAF Benevolent Fund are there to support service personnel and their families, both those who served during the Second World War and those who serve today."

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.

But it seems not everyone in Britain is aware of the battle and the ultimate price paid by so many of 'The Few' – the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots who took on the Luftwaffe in the skies above Britain in 1940. A recent survey commissioned by the RAF Benevolent Fund found that 40% of those asked did not know what the Battle of Britain was with 10% of 18-25-year-olds believing it took place in 2014!

As a former Brompton owner, Richard is not daunted by the prospect of spending four days cycling.

He said: "I used my Brompton bike for 10 years to commute into London until very recently so am used to riding the Brompton, and have been running a fair amount lately, as I trained for a 20-mile run in May so it's not my fitness I am worried about – I am more worried about my backside coping with sitting in a saddle for seven hours a day!"

It is hoped 75 riders will take part in the ride, each raising £1,000 to support the work of the Fund in providing emotional, practical and financial support to the entire RAF family. Riders need not have a connection to the RAF or a Brompton bike to take part in the challenge – just an interest in having fun!

Mike Neville, RAF Benevolent Fund director of fundraising, 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 the Battle of Britain. It would be incredible if the riders raised £75,000 to help fund the work which the Fund does to help the RAF community."

If you would like to support Richard, you can sponsor him at https://www.justgiving.com/RichardMcDermott73/

There are just a few places left on the ride, to sign up go to, www.ride25.com/rafbf

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