Rally gears up for a poignant 3,000 miles

Commander Steve Shaw from the Royal Navy and Rally for Heroes Mascot Roary the Lion
Commander Steve Shaw from the Royal Navy and Rally for Heroes Mascot Roary the Lion
HMS Duncan has returned to Portsmouth after spending three months in the Mediterranean Picture:  L/Phot Louise George

HMS Duncan returns to Portsmouth after three months away at sea

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MILITARY personnel and veterans are preparing to drive 3,000 miles across Europe in memory of those killed in Afghanistan.

The Rally for Heroes will see 120 people – made up of serving personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF and civilians – travel in 60 cars across France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and Spain to raise £100,000 for armed forces charity SSAFA.

The biennual event has been going since 2010, when it was started by army sergeant Mick Clark, who is based at Regimental HQ in Catterick Garrison. He started the event as a way to raise money by driving five miles for each member of the forces who gave their lives while on operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

Over the years, the drive has snowballed into an event that has raised more than £300,000 for Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and SSAFA.

Mick remains a key player running the event alongside fellow directors Royal Navy Commander Steve Shaw, based at Navy Command HQ in Portsmouth and Army Warrant Officer 2 Benn Laidler, 1 Regiment Army Corp at RNAS Yeovilton, in partnership with fellow director Army Warrant Officer 2 Benn Laidler.

Cdr Shaw said: ‘We’re all really looking forward to the launch.

We’re like a big family – once you have done Rally for Heroes it gets into your blood and you want to stay involved.

‘The whole team’s driven by wanting to support serving personnel, veterans and their families and SSAFA is a great charity that does exactly that.

‘The team have been fundraising hard and the generosity from our sponsors and the general public has been outstanding.’

This year the rally leaves from Portsmouth on Friday, August 5 at 11am.

Ex-RAF pilot and England rugby veteran Rory Underwood will drop the flag, in front of HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, sending the drivers on their eight-day adventure.

A specially commissioned shell-case, bearing the names of those who died in the Afghanistan campaign, will travel with the rally in memory of the sacrifice made by the forces.