HMS Collingwood sailors complete European rally for Help for Heroes

CHALLENGE Team Senior Service (from left): PO Ash Peace, Lucy Weigel and PO Mike Sawdon.
CHALLENGE Team Senior Service (from left): PO Ash Peace, Lucy Weigel and PO Mike Sawdon.
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Two sailors from HMS Collingwood came fifth overall in the Final Mission European 4x4 Rally in aid of Help for Heroes.

The annual rally organised by ex-military off-road enthusiasts Keith and Tim Bowen was themed in commemoration of the D-Day landings and saw participants follow the route taken by the US 101st Airborne Division and Allied Forces during the Second World War.

We really felt how costly war is and the damage it does to humankind

Petty Officers Mike Sawdon and Ash Peace, along with Mike’s fiancée Lucy Weigel, formed Team Senior Service.

They joined 45 other teams who set off from Littlecote House Hotel for a 12-day, 2,000-mile journey across seven countries.

In the teams’ Land Rover Defender named Tonka, the crew of three took turns at orienteering, driving and spotting in their journey across Europe.

The programme allowed teams plenty 
of down time to visit many historical military sites en route, including Commonwealth war grave sites, the Thiepval Memorial and John Frosts Bridge (A Bridge Too Far).

Those involved also took part in a Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, where children laid a wreath to remember the fallen of World War One.

Mike said: ‘It was one of those things you just have to do in life. Everyone should visit the war graves at least.

‘The things we have seen along the route have left a lifelong impression.

‘We really felt how costly war is and the damage it does to humankind.

‘We experienced the sheer loss of life during World War Two.

‘The event was so well organised and thoroughly researched.

‘We were incredibly lucky to not have had any mechanical problems along the way.’

The team raised £7,700 and helped towards the final £1 million total. They expressed a special thank you to Beaumont Landrover, Richard Chassis and Babcock for sponsoring them.

The team were presented with a glass paperweight for placing fifth overall and second within the military section of the competition.