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Riding in memory of fallen friends

Flight Lieutenant Chris Penneck is going to undertake a gruelling challenge to raise money in memory of two fallen comrades. Chris tells his story in this blog.

On 21 June 2011 I will attempt to cycle the entire length of the South Downs Way and back again - in under 24 hours. Doesn't sound that hard does it?

Well it is all off-road, covers a total of 200 miles and will involve a total vertical climb of over 8000 metres - that’s over five times the height of Ben Nevis. It’s definitely not a challenge to be taken lightly!

Chris PenneckSo why have I decided to put myself through what will undoubtedly be a gruelling and painful experience?

Well, it's to raise some money for two charities that I feel are hugely deserving and hopefully this appeal will convince you they are too!

The two charities I've decided to raise funds for are the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Citadel Memorial Fund.

The RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) is a superb charity that works tirelessly to give help and support to all the members of the RAF family, whether serving or retired.

The Citadel Memorial Fund is a charity much closer to my heart. It was set up by the members of 29 Royal Commando Artillery Regiment in order to commission a permanent memorial to the fallen members of their regiment both past and present.

Now, you may be asking why an RAF officer is raising money for a Commando charity. Well, my good friend, school mate and rugby team mate, Lieutenant Aaron Lewis was tragically killed on 15 December 2008 whilst serving with 29 RCA in Afghanistan, he had celebrated his 25th birthday just four days previously.

As you can imagine, this hit home quite hard and I felt it was my duty to try and help remember him as best I could. The Citadel fund will build a permanent memorial to all those who have given their lives in the service of their country outside the 29 RCA Regimental HQ, a fitting tribute to my friend and many others.

Sadly, since deciding to take up this challenge, another of my friends, Flight Lieutenant Simon Hulme was killed on 28 April 2011 in an aircraft accident. His family asked for donations to be made to the RAF Benevolent Fund instead of flowers, and so the RAFBF has become a cause even closer to my heart.

The number of people who have successfully completed this challenge in less than 24 hours is very small indeed. So far it stands at 12 people. I'm hoping to make it lucky number 13!

So that's what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. All that remains now is the training and the ride, but I knew it was coming and I'm not going to disappoint.

The whole reason for putting myself through all of this is to raise as much money as I can for these two hugely deserving charities.

It's over to you to donate as much or as little as you like, it will all be appreciated and will help spur me on through the small hours and the pain.

I've made it easy to donate, simply visit my JustGiving page and choose which charity you would like to donate to, or, if you're at Boscombe and would like to donate with actual money (and get a free cup of tea!) I'm in building 499 on Southampton UAS!

By Flight Lieutenant Chris Penneck

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