Race2Recovery team pick up the Baton
Injured British servicemen who completed an epic endurance rally across South America have announced they will be supporting an inspirational East Devon charity on their next journey.
In January, the Race2Recovery Team became the first team of predominantly injured servicemen to complete the formidable 5,500-mile, off-road Dakar Rally through Argentina and Chile.
The team was formed to inspire others who are injured, disabled or facing adversity and included Corporal Tom Neathway who co-drove his rally car despite losing three limbs while serving in Afghanistan.
Their efforts raised thousands of pounds for forces charity Help for Heroes.
Next year, the team will be taking with them the Baton, a stretcher handle used at Afghanistan's Camp Bastion which has become a national symbol of remembrance for our armed forces and their families.
The Baton charity was founded by Honiton barber Alan Rowe MBE, who described being treated to a few laps in the now world famous Bowler Wildcat Land Rover vehicle which the team used in the rally, as "awesome".
"A race to recovery often starts with a stretcher amidst extreme conditions and emotions that many of us fortunately can only imagine," said Alan. "Therefore our symbiotic connection is obvious.
"We both have the same aims for the same people," he said.
"It's really quite humbling, they're special people.
"They've shown the true British fortitude cracking on despite dealing with injuries and difficult memories.
"Our British forces are an inspiration to civilians who may be dealing with trauma, and see them carrying on, giving them the motivation to as well."
Since the charity was founded in September 2009, the Baton has travelled all over the world, carried by people wanting to spread its message and raise awareness of issues facing service personnel and their families. There are now five in existence.
This year the Baton travelled to the Antarctic as part of a re-enactment of the incredible Shackleton expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the explorer's journey of survival.
Baton trustee and former Royal Marine Baz Gray took on the expedition, which involved the team using the same equipment as they did in 1912.
This spring, the original Baton, used by the medical emergency response team, returned to Bastion with 27 Sqn RAF who are part of the UK Chinook Force based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.
Alan added: "The belief and understanding of the Baton's cause by such courageous and inspirational people is a real compliment to all the hard work and dedication put in by local support in Honiton, without which the charity would not be where it is now."