Stowmarket ref cycles to the Somme to raise money for charity

Paul Quick at the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near Passchendaele in Belgium at the end

Paul Quick at the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near Passchendaele in Belgium at the end of the ride. Picture: SUFFOLK FA - Credit: Archant

A Stowmarket referee who took part in the Ride to the Somme to raise money for charity said the cycle event was “a moving experience”.

Paul Quick was one of 140 cyclists to take on the 220-mile ride, which included the laying of wreaths on the Football Battalions’ Memorial at Longueval.

The event has so far raised more than £100,000 for SSAFA – the Armed Forces Charity, which is the UK’s oldest tri-services charity.

Paul worked as a REME aircraft engineer for nearly 30 years and still works at Wattisham Airfield as the fleet planner for the British Army’s Apache helicopters.

The 51-year-old, who referees in the Bostik and Thurlow Nunn leagues, was one of two football officials to take part in the ride.

Paul said: “To meet and ride with such a diverse group of people with the single aim of raising funds for SSAFA was simply amazing.

“Visiting the Football Battalions at Delville Wood was quite a moving experience but this was overshadowed by the visual evidence of the enormity of the loss of life.

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“You can write the number of dead and missing on a sheet of paper and it is just that, a number.

“To see the amount of cemeteries, headstones and names on memorials really brought home the devastating effect this war had on families and communities.”

The ride, which began on August 30, visited the Somme Valley and Ypres in the centenary year of The Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele and the memorials at Delville Wood, Vimy ridge, Mametz Wood, Thiepval and Tyne Cot.

The British Army lost nearly 1million men in The Great War with over 2m wounded.

In total, some 65m men were mobilised with 37m killed or wounded.

Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, near Compiegne where the Ride to the Somme event concluded.

Paul, who has taken part in Ride London for the last two years, said the 140 cyclists were split into four groups.

Three groups rode 220 miles over three days and the fourth rode 155 miles.

The level 3 qualified Suffolk referee has currently raised £2,300 towards the impressive total of more than £100,000 which has been raised for SSAFA through the event.

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