A Rally to Remember Heroes sets off from Dunsfold Park

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The famous 'Top Gear' track at Dunsfold Park, near Guildford in Surrey, will be the start point for this year's 3,000 mile Rally for Heroes event, which aims to raise £100,000 for the UK's longest-serving military charity, SSAFA.

Over 100 participants will set off from Dunsfold Park on Friday 27 June – the day before this year's Armed Forces Day – and return on Saturday 5 July, taking in Alpine passes, the poignant Bergen Belsen concentration camp and Hitler's Eagle's Nest along the way.

The track, which has been driven by endless stars and professionals alike, will be host to over 50 cars, which will set off on an 8-day driving challenge across the UK and Europe, navigating some of the most demanding driving routes in the world in 11 different countries.

Joining the line-up is ex-Army Paratrooper, Jamie Hull, who suffered severe burns and injuries when he was forced to jump out of a burning aircraft that he was flying whilst training for his Privates Pilots licence in America.

Jamie spent over two years battling his injuries, enduring six months in a coma, nine months in intensive care and a further 15 months in a special burns unit.

Throughout his recovery, Jamie and his Mum, Shirley, were supported by SSAFA, so when the opportunity to take part in a fundraising rally for SSAFA came up, Jamie didn't have to think twice.

"When I found out Rally for Heroes was in aid of SSAFA, I was immediately interested. The connection became a personal one for me."

"SSAFA directly supported my mum when I was seriously ill in hospital. If they had not supported her needs, she would not have been able to give me her full attention. I only knew this once I had come out of my coma."

"They dealt with the little things for her, so she could focus on the big things. She spent full days at my bedside; she was all I had, she was my rock but it was only because SSAFA was there for her, that she was able to be there for me. It's only now I realise what a profound effect that had on me and my recovery."

Vicki Butler-Henderson, the presenter from TV's Fifth Gear, will also be at the track to see the intrepid drivers off and will be waving the flag at the official start line.

Every five miles of this driving adventure represents the 453 servicemen and women who have died since the start of the conflict in Afghanistan. A simple but powerful concept and one which is strongly aligned with SSAFA's role in offering specialist support to families of those who have been killed or injured in recent conflicts.

On departing Dunsfold Park, the convoy will be accompanied by a full Police escort as it makes its way to Dover, briefly stopping at the English Heritage landmark, Dover Castle before embarking on the ferry to cross the channel into Europe.

Benn Laidler, the other co-founding member and Army Warrant Officer, recognises the value that the rally offers in terms of having fun and raising money for deserving people. "The Rally for Heroes organising team and the participants are all volunteers who are drawn to this event by the sheer excitement and adventure of a rally. Their personal commitment means that 100% of the money they raise will help continue the vital work that SSAFA does with the entire military family."

Jim Morrison, from SSAFA, also taking part in the Rally, said "The Rally for Heroes team, just like our Armed Forces, are ordinary people doing something extraordinary for a cause they believe in. Together, SSAFA and Rally for Heroes are embarking on a journey to ensure that those who are no longer with us are never forgotten."

To show your support for SSAFA and Jamie text 'JRFH75 £5' to 70070.

To find out more, visit http://www.rallyforheroes.com/, where you can also follow the Rally on its journey across Europe through live tracking.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

SSAFA

SSAFA provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families. Each year, our staff and network of 7,500 volunteers help more than 50,000 people, ranging from D-Day veterans to the families of young servicemen and women killed or wounded in Afghanistan. For more information, visit www.ssafa.org.uk.