Cricketers cycling to Belgium on quest to honour First World War veteran

Bucks Free Press: Cricketers cycling to Belgium on quest to honour First World War veteran Cricketers cycling to Belgium on quest to honour First World War veteran

MEMBERS of Penn Street Cricket Club are preparing for a 180 mile cycle ride from from Penn Street to the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.

They are leaving Penn Street on July 31 and arriving in Ypres on August 4 2014, the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War.

The small village team are taking on the trip in the memory of Frederick Wingrove who sadly died in World War One during the Third Battle of Ypres.

Mr Wingrove’s name is engraved on the war memorial of Penn Street village, and also on Menin Gate. His father and uncle were founding members of the cricket club at the end of the 19th century.

Two years ago Simon Briggs, 44, of Penn Street Cricket Club had the idea of riding from Penn Street to Ypres to honour the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

His enthusiasm and commitment inspired others at the club to follow his lead.

Team Secretary, Richard Spooner, 55, paid tribute to his teammate’s work saying that the club are very grateful for the trip Mr Briggs has worked so hard on.

Mr Spooner said: "We have all been out training and we have all been putting in the hours and the miles, we're taking it very seriously.

"We are being accompanied by six Royal British Legion motor-bike outriders, and for a club of our size, this is an incredible honour. They are giving up their own time and they have volunteered to shepherd and take care of the cyclists whilst on the trip."

The 55-year-old cricket enthusiast admitted that some members of the team are anxious about the 180 mile trip but are keen to meet the challenge posed by the ride.

He said: "There is a high expectation and much enthusiasm from all of those involved. The enthusiasm is shared by the cyclists and support team alike."

Mr Spooner added that without the support of the wives and girlfriends of the players the ride would be all the more difficult.

"I think for some there is an element of them thinking what have I let myself in for, but the enthusiasm remains undiminished"

The Buckinghamshire club have received backing from the home of cricket, Lords.

Mr Spooner said: "We have had a letter of support from them commending us for our efforts. It is remarkable that a small club like ours has got such prestigious backing.

"On the route we are planning to stop there for a photo under the media centre at Lords"

After this we will stop for another photo opportunity at the head quarters of the Royal British Legion, Haig House.

The day prior to arriving in Ypres, the club will play local French cricket side, Lille.

Mr Spooner said: "It will be a very poignant moment. We are first and foremost doing this ride in remembrance of a tragic war and the tragic losses that resulted from that war.

"However, while war is about division, it is sport that unites. This is what is going to happen, we will unite these two cricket clubs. I think that is really special."

When arriving in Ypres, the club will lower its flag in honour of the club founder in a private ceremony. While later as part of the official remembrance ceremony Mark Lander, 31, a distant relative of Mr Wingrove, will lay a wreath in an act of special remembrance.

Over a ten year period Penn Street CC have raised over £100,000 with charity matches played against Lords Taverners where the likes of Chris Tarrant and Gary Sobers have helped the club.

Mr Spooner commented that the club have the reputation of "Being a little Club with a big heart." The bike ride will be raising money for Help for Heroes and RBL.

For more information regarding the ride, or should you want to make a donation to the cause, please visit their JustGiving page at: http://www.justgiving.com/teams/100-not-out.

To support Penn Street Cricket Club’s trip or for any further information contact: m.egan@100notout.org.uk

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