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Cyclists complete more than 20,000 miles for the first Dambusters Ride

Congratulations to the 201 cyclists who pedalled more than 20,000 miles as part of the first Dambusters Ride this weekend. The ride, launched this year to celebrate the 100th birthday of the last surviving Dambuster Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson DFM, was held on the 78th anniversary of the historic Second World War raid.

Lou Macintosh and Dave Sexton cycled as part of The Blades Aerobatic Team who have raised over £3,500.
The RAF Benevolent Fund’s Dambusters Ride, a 100- and 56-mile fundraising event, paid tribute to the Dambusters raid that took place 16-17 May 1943.

Cyclists around the world took part in the virtual event which has so far raised more than £90,000 for the Fund. They included Peter and Toby Kell who completed their challenge in Australia, finishing at RAAF Point Cook, the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force, while Ian McCaughtrie started and finished his ride at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta in Canada.  

The inaugural Ride was also completed by The Blades who set off from The Petwood Hotel in Lincolnshire, and saluted some familiar military sites along the route, including RAF Cranwell and RAF Scampton - where over half of the team were based during their military careers as fast-jet pilots.

Blades Team Captain, pilot James McMillan, said: “When the opportunity came up to take part in the challenge, it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund, a charity so close to our hearts. Having only got a road bike last year, I have to admit the idea of riding 100 miles in one day was pretty daunting! But I hope that our efforts and achievements will inspire those who will be cycling the same routes in July. On behalf of the Blades, it’s been a real honour to participate in the Fund’s fundraising challenge. A huge well done to the team and a heartfelt thanks to those who have donated so far.”

Lisa Hunt, Regional Fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled so many cyclists were able to take part in the Dambusters Ride virtual event this weekend, paying tribute to both Johnny Johnson’s centenary and the 78th anniversary of the Dambusters raid. The weekend’s fundraising efforts will allow the Fund to continue supporting the whole of the RAF Family practically, emotionally and financially for years to come.”

Ian McCaughtrie started and finished his ride at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton.
The virtual ride will be followed by a physical event taking place in Lincolnshire on 3 July. Operation Chastise was a pivotal moment during the Second World War when 19 Lancaster crews targeted three dams in the heart of Germany’s war machine. It was a risky raid, dropping the revolutionary bouncing bomb at low level, and the cost was high. Of 133 crew who took part, 53 were killed in action and three were taken prisoner of war.

To learn more about the Dambusters Ride and to sign up for next year’s event, visit rafbf.org/ride.

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