Two wounded veterans help launch this year's Hero Ride to raise cash for Phoenix House

Darlington and Stockton Times: Craig Donaghue and Mikey Hall Craig Donaghue and Mikey Hall

A PAIR of wounded veterans who took part in a Help for Heroes charity bike ride last year have helped to launch a follow-up event to raise cash for a recovery centre.

Craig Donaghue, 33, from Middlesbrough, and Mikey Hall, 38, of Richmond, both took part in last year’s Hero Ride from Edinburgh to London using hand bikes.

They are encouraging people to join in this year as members of the public are invited to take part for the first time.

The North East event will see 60 cyclists ride through the region to raise funds for Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick Garrison.

The Tartan Express Hero Ride 2014 has been launched as part of the wider Hero Ride challenge, which brings together bike rides from across the country and finishes in London on June 8.

Help for Heroes patron and Tour de France cyclist Mark Cavendish has encouraged people to get involved in the fundraising event and said he hopes to take part himself.

He said: “The Hero Ride is an amazing opportunity to cycle alongside our wounded men and women, and to hear their inspirational stories.”

Mr Donaghue and Mr Hall will cycle with a group of ten military personnel and veterans currently being supported by Phoenix House, with the remaining 50 places taken by members of the public.

Mr Donaghue, a former Green Howards soldier, injured his back in 2003 and was medically discharged in February 2013.

Mr Hall, who served with 1st the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, was left paralysed from the chest down after an accident on an army assault course.

“I loved the enjoyment, excitement and companionship that cycling with a team brings - that feeling of being back in the fold which I really missed when I had to leave the army,” he said.

Part of the money raised from the Tartan Express Hero Ride will go towards building projects at Phoenix House to widen the range of support offered to residents.

In 2013 Hero Ride raised £1.1m and 1,300 people of all ages and abilities took part, and the target this year is to get 2,000 cyclists to help raise £1.5m.

The rides will all join together at Blackheath Common to form one giant peloton for the last ten miles to the grand finale in central London.

For more information visit www.heroride.org.uk.

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