Halton man gets on his bike for 200-mile ride around Cumbria to help veterans charity

Halton resident Brian Jefferson will be undertaking a 220-mile cycle ride around Cumbria this month to raise funds for Combat Stress.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 9:11 am
Brian Jefferson.
Brian Jefferson.

The eight-day ride will start from Halton on September 10 and take in many Cumbria towns, visiting Penrith via Windermere, Carlisle, Allonby via Bowness, Whitehaven, Broughton and Grange.

Retired Squadron Leader Brian Jefferson, 74, is a native of Cumbria, having been born in Allonby on the Solway coast, but grew up in Carlisle.

His family, on both sides, are all rooted in the old county of Cumberland, both along the Solway coast and in the north Lakes from Cockermouth to Penrith.

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Brian said: “My Cumbrian family served and lost a member in Bomber Command and I ride in their memory and for all veterans suffering with combat stress.

"As a 74-year-old active member of my local community in Halton, I have supported numerous military veterans groups and played a role in establishing the Armed Forces Day events in our district.

"During these events I have been increasingly aware of the issue of PTSD and the mental struggles of many of those who have served.

"Within my own family I was aware of the difficulties those close to veterans can experience and am grateful for the work that Combat Stress does to help with such problems.

"My ride round Cumbria will be a ride down memory lane for me, while raising both the profile of the cause and much needed funds for Combat Stress, at a time when funding for charities has slumped due to the lock-down of the last five months."

After attending Bede College in Durham and a brief flirtation with teaching, Brian joined the RAF in 1969, graduating as a Pilot Officer and undertaking flying training in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before a first front line posting to IX Squadron flying the Vulcan at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

Returning to RAF Waddington in 1975 he joined 50 Squadron also flying the Vulcan.

In 1978 Brian was posted to 8 Squadron flying the Avro Shackleton in the Airborne Early Warning role, directing fighter aircraft onto soviet air force aircraft infiltrating UK and NATO airspace.

After three front line tours he qualified as an instructor and joined No.1 Flying Training School at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, where he served out his time in the RAF as the Squadron Commander on 3 Squadron. After retiring from the RAF, he went on to join British Aerospace.

Combat Stress was founded in May 1919, just after the First World War ended as the Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Society. For a century, they have helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

They continue to support former servicemen and women from every service and every conflict, on the phone, online, in the community and at treatment centres across the UK.

Brian said: “There remains an ongoing and urgent need to fund this exceptional charity and I hope that people will support my ride towards its target of £2,000.”

To sponsor the ride, email Brian at [email protected]

You can also send a cheque to LMHG Treasurer, Piperswood, Halton, LA2 6LP.

In addition, donations can be transferred directly to Combat Stress. Please use the reference Brian Jefferson, sort code 60-00-01 and account number 00100013.