The Start of Something Big….

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Nick Robbins

The death of a parent can be terrible for an adult however for a child it’s even more traumatic.  Imagine being a child and being denied the warmth of a hug of a loving mum or dad or having your idol and role model taken out of your life forever and then having to deal with a whole range of emotions that a lot of people struggle with even with several years of emotional maturity.  Children have undeveloped emotions and it’s difficult for kids to understand how to handle these feelings. This is a harsh reality for too many of our service children who have lost a parent serving in the UK’s Armed Forces, especially given recent conflicts.

My story starts with Laura, mother to Tanith and Ewan.  Laura’s late husband Nick was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force.  By all accounts less Top Gun Maverick but more family man and a brilliant husband and father with a cracking sense of humour and mischief.  The children were robbed of their father in September 2014 by cancer and it was after this that Laura turned to Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

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Nikki Scott set up the charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers in honour of her husband Corporal Lee Scott.  It’s dedicated to supporting the bereaved children of our military personnel. The charity supports them in three different ways;

  • through enabling the children to smile from various activities,
  • by supporting the emotional needs of the children
  • by helping the children’s personal development through activities and educational grants.
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Nick, Ewan & Tanith

Even though the major conflicts have ended, many of the children affected by bereavement are still feeling the benefits of the charity.

By now you’ve probably guessed what this blog is about and you’re right and wrong.  I’m not going into full on Bob Geldof (if you’re under 35 ask your mum or dad) mode just yet!

I served in the RAF all throughout the late 80’s and 90’s and into this century. Ask anyone who has served in the military and they will tell you that it was more than working with a bunch of mates, it was family. In fact, in my case, the bond with some of my colleagues in the RAF runs deeper than those I share the same DNA with.

Regular readers of my blog will recall that this time last year I was introduced to the Saints Foundation and joined their SFIT course.  Weighing just under 17 stone, I rapidly lost weight and increased my fitness levels and lost well over 4 stone.  As payback to the charity I undertook the Saints Foundation Big Bike Challenge riding from The Etihad Stadium to St Mary’s. It was on the ride I met Mark Traves who was one of our ride leaders.

I kept up the cycling after the Big Bike Challenge as I wanted to maintain my fitness levels given that the old knees weren’t up to running.  Having only got on the bike in January 2018 for the first time since my childhood I don’t consider myself a cyclist. I’ve absolutely no idea how many Tour De France Bradley Froome has won or which part of Scotland Gary Thomas comes from however Mark is slightly more interested in the sport and knows his Cannondale from his Colnago.

It was during one of our training rides that we were discussing the work that Scotty’s did for military kids that we came up with the idea of cycling Land’s End to John O’Groats (LeJOG) in September 2019.  And that’s why we’re here.

We’ve discussed how we do the ride.  We could join one of the organised rides that provide you with support, beds and food but then that would be easy and Mark and I don’t do easy.   Much of the money that is raised goes into the costs of putting the ride together, which is absolutely fine and reasonable. These rides tend to be more about the rider and not the cause that they are riding for and although we are putting ourselves through hundreds of miles of cycling, we want the focus to be the Scotty’s Little Soldier’s family and not us.

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Our route will take us from Cornwall along through Somerset, then up along the Welsh\England border, across Manchester, the home of British Cycling, towards Edinburgh and then the hard, long slog through the Highlands to our endpoint.

There will be a lot of training involved, such as riding the Mendips or Welsh valleys to get used to cycling over the lumpy bits of the UK or long endurance rides to get used to being in the saddle for so long. During the ride itself we’ll be expending a lot of energy so we’ll be stopping every 40 odd miles to ingest high energy food.  We’ll need somewhere to stay of a night and someway in getting the bikes back to the south coast of England.

The logistics of cycling and training for a ride through Great Britain is massive and so we’re not only asking for the obvious cash donations, we want to create a Scotty’s LeJOG Family

And that’s why we’re turning to you for help.

We’re looking to the military family and beyond into the civilian community to assist us in our quest to raise funds for Scotty’s Little Soldiers.  Specifically, we’ll need to:

  • Create a network of people willing to assist and help us in our 1000 mile slog.
  • Assistance with the marketing and help us raise as much as possible for the charity.  The less we spend on ride then the more the charity receives.

But more than this, we’re looking for ideas on how you can help.  You could be a bike shop willing to offer support should we have mechanical issues or willing to supply clothes and training equipment.  You may be a logistics firm happy to ship our kit and bikes back down to the south coast of England or you could offer to meet us along the way and provide flapjacks and morale and motivation during our lowest ebbs….. and if you’d like to join us as we pedal into each stop then why not?!  We’re happy to wear the badges of sponsors and every person and business willing to help will be promoted through the blog.

That said, if you’d like to sponsor us now through cash donation then click on the link below.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/scottylejog

We’re open to ideas so feel free to contact us and join the LeJOG family and be part of something special.

Over the next few months we’ll blog about the plan, our training program and experiences and will get first hand accounts on how Scotty’s Little Soldiers has had a positive impact on our Forces kids.

Mark and I want this ride to be about the Scotty’s family and not us which is why we’re not interested in big organised rides with medals and balloons but as we complete the finish line our biggest reward we could hope for is for is to be met by beneficiaries of the charity.

So pledge your support and let us know how you can help us!

Contact: lejog@nottherealjon.blog

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