Organised by veterans for veterans, this September, 600 ex-forces personnel will embark on an incredible adventure across the UK, to take on the Veteran’s Banger Rally 2021.
With the 1500 mile route designed to visit important military landmarks, support UK tourism and host activities to get the teams working together and talking openly, the event aims to fundraise for a selection of charities that directly support Veterans and other worthy causes.
Welcomm heard about the event through a family connection – our own Account Development Manager, Holly Riley introduced us to her Uncle, Mick Riley MBE who talked to us about this latest fundraising initiative, as well as the incredible story of his military life that led him to co-found charity ‘CheckEmLads’ (now known as Testicular Cancer UK).
Having joined the army at 16 years old, Mick spent his early career in Germany where he worked alongside the Royal Logistics Core. Through tours to Kosovo in 1999, Bosnia in 2001, Iraq in 2003, 2005, 2007 & 2009 and Afghanistan in 2011, Mick experienced war zones, met incredible comrades and climbed the ranks, ending his 27 year military career with the rank of ‘Command Sergeant Major’.
“Being in a senior position, I was in a fantastic position to help other people… yet I was so busy looking after others, that I didn’t look inwardly at myself and listen to how I was doing. Which is why when I left the army, it all came crashing down within a couple of months. It was then that I was diagnosed with PTSD.
It was important to me that I help other Veterans out there that needed support now, or were about to as they left the forces. The more we got out there in the public, the more we realised how much it was needed.”
A chance message made it to Mick from a veteran, new to his local area, feeling alone and socially isolated. Mick reached out to him to meet up and off the back of that, the Wirral Veterans Social Group on Facebook was formed. Within 72 hours, over 80 people had joined the group – there are now 500 members in total.
The group is a social network that encourages veterans to get together over a beer, reminisce about their days in the forces and talk about how they’re feeling… giving veterans a supportive and understanding place to face any mental health challenges they might be struggling with. It was a member of this social group that suggested they organise their own Veterans Rally – and through the power of social media, soon 150 veterans teams had signed up to take on the voyage.
Kicking off in September, the 5 day adventure will see 150 bangers (vehicles worth under £500) take on a 1500 mile trek, with tricky tasks along the way and events every night to get together. Many of the rally teams will have members with PTSD and/or health issues brought on by military service. Getting veterans together to talk, have open conversations and discuss issues with likeminded people, is incredibly important and a key ambition of the event.
Day 1: Teams will descend on the National Armed Forces Arboretum for registration. A parade and wreath laying ceremony will take place before teams set off to Llandudno.
Day 2: Llandudno to Torquay
Day 3: Torquay to Skegness
Day 4: Skegness to Newcastle Upon Tyne
Day 5: Newcastle to Runcorn, via Blackpool, arriving at the Royal British Legion in Runcorn for the final awards evening.
Mick’s team comprises of himself, and fellow veterans Simon Parker and Christian Bennett. Together they have attracted sponsorship from businesses across the UK – who’s logos now proudly adorn the Tom Moore Memorial Taxi; the old black cab that they managed to get hold of for under £500!
With the Veteran’s Banger Rally organised to raise money for a selection of charities, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen’s Families Association) and the Sir Tom Moore Foundation, to sponsor Mick’s team visit his JustGiving page here.
“A veteran-owned business ourselves, we understand the importance of supporting the passionate, skilful and determined people that have served in the forces upon their transition back into civilian life.
Mental health is a priority for us as a business, and so when Holly came to us with her family’s charitable cause, we were more than happy to show our support in any way we could.”