Firefighters cycle to Great War cemeteries
NINE Cornish firefighters, most of them from the Orange Watch Penzance, have recently returned from a charity cycle ride in Belgium and northern France.
The group spent three days cycling round the area, visiting the many memorials and cemeteries in Belgium and France, and paying respects to the fallen soldiers of the Great War, as well as raising funds for The Royal British Legion and The Fire Fighters Charity.
After arriving in Ypres earlier this month, they averaged 50 to 60 miles each day, visiting as many sites of interest as they could.
Andy Bales, from Orange Watch, said: "The first and last day were spent around the Ypres area itself, which was battle torn and consequently littered with immaculately kept cemeteries. The middle day involved a trip down to the Somme to pay our respects there.
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"We were proud to be allowed the honour of laying a wreath in the daily ceremony of The Last Post at Menin Gate, a humbling experience that touched us all deeply.
"Among other sites, too numerous to mention, we visited Tyne Cot, the largest cemetery on the Western Front; Thiepval, one of the largest and most emotive war memorials, which commemorates the names of over 72,000; and, on a different scale but equally moving, the small wooden cross commemorating the Christmas truce of 1914. Here we left a football which has become the tradition at this place."
The firefighters have raised £2,300 to date but the website for donations is still open at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ride2remember
The trip was funded by the firefighters themselves with the help of local companies, including The Penzance Cycle Centre, Penzance Halfords, Endura, Mill Autos and Mitchell & Webber; there was also support from Fire Service Sports and Social Association.