A VETERAN soldier injured while serving in Iraq is in training to cycle 440 miles from Edinburgh to London to fundraise for Help for Heroes and to aid in his rehabilitation.
Paul Fee, who lives in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, said it was a personal challenge to take part in the Tartan Express Hero Ride 2014, from June 1 to 8.
He will be among a team of 60 riders who will converge with cyclists from four other Hero Rides from Cardiff, Manchester and Tedworth in Wiltshire, at Blackheath Common before riding the final 10 miles altogether into central London.
The 28-year-old, originally from Hull, has received support for his rehabilitation through the Help for Heroes-run northern Recovery Centre, Phoenix House.
A private with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, Mr Fee joined the Army in 2006 but, while training the Iraqi Army in 2007, he tore ligaments in his right knee. It was not until he returned from Iraq that the injury was diagnosed properly and he had to have ligaments replaced.
Despite three operations, he was still not fully able to use his knee and he was medically discharged in February, 2011. Mr Fee initially went to Phoenix House to use the gym for rehabilitation after a further operation in April, 2013, but has found the centre has helped him in many other ways.
He said: “I knew this place existed but I was not sure who it existed for and how much the help extended to veterans.
“I decided to call up and see if I was entitled to come in, even for someone just to point me in the right direction, and they welcomed me with open arms.”
After seeing how cycling was aiding his recovery, Help for Heroes provided Mr Fee with a road bike to encourage him further.
He said: “A few months ago, with my injury, I would never have been able to cycle that far so to do it will be amazing for me.”
Kelly Bostock, who helps run the fitness programme at Phoenix House, said: “Fitness is great for motivation and it’s something to focus on.
“If you have always been physically active and that’s what drives you and makes you feel good, then physical activity is a fantastic way to re-engage someone.”
For more information or to sign up to the Tartan Express Hero Ride, see the website at www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-involved/challenge-events/cycling/edinburgh-to-london.