Darren supports the Troops in the Rally for Heroes
Swindon's Darren Hand is to take part in this year's Rally for Heroes. The event, which is being staged from Fri 27th June 2014 to Sat 5th July 2014, is being held to raise money for SSAFA, the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association (http://www.ssafa.org.uk), which is committed to providing a lifetime of support to anyone who has ever served in Britain's Armed forces, and also to their families. It provides practical support and assistance to more than 50,000 people, from D-Day veterans to young soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
Rally for Heroes 2014 is the third staging of this charitable event, which has grown in strength since its initial staging in 2010, when over £32,000 was raised for Help for Heroes, while the 2012 event raised £123,000 for Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. Let us hope that this year's event sees a similar increase.
Darren, who joined Limesquare last April after returning to Britain from the Middle East, will be co-driver to his friend Tim Birks, who himself participated in the 2012 Rally as a co-driver. They will be driving Tim's RS Ford Focus as one of 31 cars entered for this event. The ethos of the event is to drive 5 miles for each fallen serviceman/woman since the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict. Unfortunately that figure continues to rise. In 2010 the route covered just over 1700 miles; in 2012 it was almost 2200. In 2014 they will be covering approximately 2600 miles.
The Rally will start from the Top Gear Test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey and will take our intrepid duo through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. Darren has a keen interest in World War II, so is pleased that the route will take him to the Airborne Museum at Arnhem, and also to one of the few undamaged monuments of the Hitler era, the Eagle's Nest, originally designed by Martin Bormann as a birthday present on behalf of the Nazi Party for Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday. They will also visit the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where an estimated 50,000 people perished, among them diarist Anne Frank, who died of typhus in March 1945 just about a month before the liberation of the camp by the British on 15th April.
After these historical sites, the Rally will take the Drivers into Austria where they will travel over the Grossglockner Pass under the shadow of the Grossglockner itself, at 3,798m the highest mountain in Austria, and alongside the Pasterze Glacier. They will then travel over the Stelvio Pass which, rising up over 8,000 feet, and with 60 hairpins, is considered one of the toughest driving roads in the world.
After that ordeal, they will no doubt be relieved to experience what has been voted "the best driving road in the world" through Davos, the Home of the World Economic Forum. Their route home from there will take them through 5 of the best passes in Switzerland and through the Black Forest, before reaching the finish back in England at Waltham Abbey. This is Darren's first time participating in such an event, but, describing himself as "an avid petrol head", he says that "driving through and on some of Europe's best roads is something that cannot be missed". He adds that he is "really looking forward to meeting the drivers and passengers who will be participating on this wonderful journey".
Darren and Tim need to raise £1000 to participate in this event, of which £356.81 has been raised so far through attending events up and down the country. If anyone wishes to make a donation to help them reach their target, then the following link will take you to their Virgin Money Giving account, where you can make a donation, and follow the progress of their fundraising totals. This site can also be accessed from their Driver's Page.
By Stephen Barnard