Carver Barracks soldiers shift into gear for charity

SIX soldiers based at Carver Barracks have returned home following a memorial charity cycle ride.

The aching limbs of the soldiers from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) were soothed by the knowledge that their efforts have raised over �3,500 for the Regiment’s Injured Soldiers Fund.

Supported by a team of four soliders who drove back up vehicles carrying repair kits and tyre, the soldiers completed a 523-mile bike ride in memory of their friend and colleague, Sapper David Watson, who was killed in Afghanistan in December 2009.

The six day challenge saw them cycle from the Wimbish base to the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge, near Fort William in Scotland, where they laid a memorial stone in memory of Sapper Watson in the Garden of Remembrance. Sapper Watson’s father Malcolm and uncle also attended.

Keen cyclist and event organiser, Staff Sergeant Paul Clark, from 49 (EOD) Squadron, had visited the memorial earlier this year and decided to return at a later date to lay the memorial stone in his colleague’s memory.

The memorial was erected in 1952 to commemorate those commandos who fell during the Second World War.

Sapper Watson was commando and paratrooper trained. Known to his friends as ‘The Leg’ due to his long legs and phenomenal fitness, he served for a short time with 24 Commando Engineer Regiment before being posted to the Airborne Troop of 49 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), part of 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD).

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The team carried the memorial stone, engraved with the regiment’s badge and David’s name, in a day sack.

“I thought if I was planning to return to lay the memorial stone in Dave’s memory then why not try and raise some money for the Carver Barracks Injured Soldiers Fund at the same time,” said SSgt Clark.

“When I suggested cycling to the memorial a lot of the other guys in the squadron said they wanted to take part as well.”

Speaking about the ride he added: “Some days were easier than others, but all the lads did a good job, we kept each other going.

“We all did it in memory of Dave – he was a great bloke and will never be forgotten and the money raised far out weighed any saddle sores or aching muscles we gained on route.”

Launched in 2009, all money raised for the fund is being used to make a difference to the lives of soldiers from the Barracks who have been injured whilst on active service.

The team taking part in the ride were: SSgt Paul Clark, Sgt Dave Hird, Sgt Simon Gardner, Cpl Richard Gardiner, Cpl Neal Griffiths, Cpl Tom Sherratt, LCpl Ellis Acaster, Spr Garrie Bain, Spr Dan Taylor-Allen and Capt Lee Thornhill.

The group is still collecting and hope the end figure will be �5,000.

• Anyone who would like to make a donation to the fund can send a cheque made payable to: Central Bank 33 Engineer Regiment to Staff Sergeant Clark, 49 Field Squadron (EOD), 33 Engineer Regt (EOD), Carver Barracks, Wimbish, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 2YA.