TWO RAF veterans will cycle through the region this weekend as part of a 690 mile challenge – the Tornado Tribute Tour of England.

Mal Craghill and Martin Wintermeyer's challenge, raising money for the Royal Air Forces Association, is in memory of friends and colleagues killed training for and during the first Gulf War.

The duo were all set for their Tornado Tribute Tour of England (TTTE) to start on February 19.

Lockdown three put paid to their plans for that ride, but the pair were not deterred.

After training hard for months, they started their ride in Cornwall on June 18.

On Sunday, the final day, they will lay a wreath for British Army losses at Catterick Camp Centre roundabout before riding through Leeming Bar, Richmond, Croxdale and Durham.

They will finish at Washington Cemetery where there will be a short service of remembrance for Flight Lieutenant Norman Dent, of 14 Squadron, who died in 1991 with Flight Lieutenant Kieran Duffy when their Tornado crashed on a low-level training sortie in Oman before the war started.

The service will be supported by personnel from RAF Boulmer.

On their way up the country, the pair have visited and laid wreaths at all the English grave sites of the Tornado aircrew lost in the Middle East 30 years ago, as well as the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to pay their respects at the Gulf War Memorial and the Armed Forces Memorial.

The latter commemorates not just the seven Tornado aircrew killed on deployed operations, but also those lost in training accidents in the UK.

They also remembered the two pilots from the RAF Jaguar force who were killed.

In total, Mr Craghill and Mr Wintermeyer will honour the memory of 13 RAF and one US Air Force aircrew.

Mr Craghill and Mr Wintermeyer hoped to raise £10,000 for the Royal Air Forces Association, the charity that supports the RAF family, but have reached more than £22,000.

Mr Wintermeyer said: “Mal and I want to thank everyone who has supported us so far, from our sponsors, to those who joined us virtually on our training rides, to those who have kindly made donations to the RAF Association and most of all to the families of the guys we lost. Their support has meant so much to us.”

Mr Craghill added: “We have been preparing for this ride for almost a year, so it is great to finally get going. The ride will give us both the opportunity to think and reflect, and process the grief we weren’t able to confront 30 years ago.”

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