Biggleswade cyclist's charity ride and prize draw honours D-Day heroes and 80th anniversary

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A determined Biggleswade cyclist is honouring D-Day's heroes by taking on a mighty ride through France and organising a special competition.

Paul Middleton, 43, will be peddaling 215 miles across Normandy to raise funds for the Royal British Legion (RBL), commemorating the 80th anniversary of the major Second World War invasion.

He is also inviting readers to take part in a prize draw – with rewards donated by generous local businesses – to help the charity.

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Paul, a member of the Biggleswade RBL branch, said: "I don't have a military background; however, my interest started in 1993 on a school trip to Normandy, which was then followed by my Grandpa, Henry (Harry) Clark, starting to open up a little around his involvement in World War Two.

Paul with two friends on a recent RBL Poppy ride in Kent. Image: Paul Middleton.Paul with two friends on a recent RBL Poppy ride in Kent. Image: Paul Middleton.
Paul with two friends on a recent RBL Poppy ride in Kent. Image: Paul Middleton.

"It was at this point, and during a return trip to Normandy in 1994, that I really appreciated what those who served sacrificed during the war – and do still to this day – which is one of the main reasons for supporting the RBL.

"We need to ensure that the history and memories get passed on to the younger generations."

Paul will be sailing from Portsmouth on June 27 and will begin his challenge "as soon as the ferry docks" in France.

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Over the course of three days, a team of around 60 RBL cyclists will be visiting historic sites, including each of the five landing beaches as well as Pegasus Bridge, Hill 112, Sainte Mere Eglise and Longes-sur-Mer.

Paul and his family, including his Grandpa, at Pegasus Bridge in 1994. Harry was in the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the Royal Armoured Corps. Image: Paul Middleton.Paul and his family, including his Grandpa, at Pegasus Bridge in 1994. Harry was in the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the Royal Armoured Corps. Image: Paul Middleton.
Paul and his family, including his Grandpa, at Pegasus Bridge in 1994. Harry was in the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the Royal Armoured Corps. Image: Paul Middleton.

They will also visit a number of memorials and cemeteries, such as the British Normandy Memorial, Ranville Cemetary and the Amercian Normandy Memorial.

Paul added: "It will be especially poignant as it will be 30 years since I was there with my Grandpa. We will be visiting Ranville Cemetary where his wartime friend is buried. I hope to lay a cross on his headstone."

A keen "summer cyclist", Paul is looking forward to making "new friends for life", and the team will also be travelling with a historian from Sandy.

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Meanwhile, back home in Biggleswade, Paul has organised a prize draw in aid of the Royal British Legion. Tickets are £2 per prize, and those who have donated include: Bedfordshire Growers, Castle Comedy, Gorgeous Gift Company, Hays Travel, House of Hatton, Jones' Fitness, Jordans Mill, Katie Hounsome Illustrator, Krafty Shed, Leger Holidays, Lou Lou's, Pedals Cycles, Piggott's Butchers, Sheff's, Surfin Cafe, The Beauty Cabin, The Bigg Theatre, The Brow Club, The Gentleman's Lounge, and The White Hart.

The closing date for the draw is at 11.59pm on June 5. Businesses can still donate.

The draw will take place in the Market Square on June 6 in the RBL gazebo, as the town commemorates D-Day.

A quiz for the RBL is also being held on June 5 at 8pm in The Rose, High Street. Please contact the pub to book a team.

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To enter the prize draw, visit: 'Biggleswade D-Day 80th Prize Draw' on crowdfunder.co.uk. To donate to the charity cycle, search for 'Paul Middleton' via royalbritishlegion.enthuse.com. To arrange a postal ticket, or get in touch with Paul directly, please contact [email protected]

Paul wishes to thank everyone who has donated or spread the word. He concluded: "I feel truly humbled by the support from local businesses and think that it really showcases what a great town Biggleswade is."

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