VETERANS from across the UK headed to Cinderford last weekend to pay tribute to local man Christopher Jones, as part of a fundraiser to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War this year.
A team of four British veterans have set out to lead their fourth ‘Ride of Respect’ fundraiser this month, for which they are travelling 2600 miles around the country on motorbikes to pay their respects to fallen Falklands soldiers and raise money for the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA).
The veterans - Paul Moore and Charlie McColgan, who both served in the Falklands, and Phill Damant and Tony McKie - visited Yew Tree Cemetery in Cinderford on Sunday (May 8), where they were met by members of Cinderford Royal British Legion to honour Sapper Christopher Jones, who died on June 11 1982, just days before the Argentine surrender at the age of 19.
This year, the riders were joined at the cemetery by Christopher’s mum, sister and niece.
Group leader Paul Moore posted to their Facebook page following their visit to Cinderford: “We rode up into the Forest of Dean to pay respects to Sapper Chris Jones and it was especially nice to meet his mum, sister and niece while we were there.
“John Strong played the bugle and the Last Post echoing around the trees is something I will never forget.”
The riders also visited the grave of Private Timothy Jenkins of Ross-on-Wye on Sunday, which was attended by his stepmother, Jean Jenkins, who has stayed in touch with the group over the years.
The veterans had planned to visit the Falklands this year to visit the soldiers’ grave sites there to mark the 40th anniversary, but organising the visit proved difficult because of Covid-19.
Instead, the bikers quickly organised “one last ride” in the UK over two weeks in May, with the tour finishing up in Yorkshire on Sunday, May 15.
The ride sees the veterans visit all of the 80 UK gravesites and memorials of soldiers who lost their lives in the Falklands war in 1982.
The tour sees the bikers embark on a road trip stretching as far north as Aberdeenshire and as a far south as Plymouth.
The fundraiser was the fourth event of its kind, with the veterans having visited all the graves of soldiers from the 3 Para regiment in 2019 and all of the remaining graves they knew about in 2020, before completing the full tour for the first time last summer.
This year, the group are also carrying the Wreath of Respect on their travels, which is laid at memorial sites across the UK and abroad to honour those who gave their lives in all past conflicts, as well as those which are ongoing.
For more information and to support SAMA, which aims to promote and maintain “a sense of pride and comradeship” amongst veterans of the South Atlantic Campaign, go to www.sama82.org.uk/ride-of-respect-2022.
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