Cycling-mad Marc to bike 400 miles in memory of First World War hero great-grandfather

11 June 2014 11:25

The great-grandson of a First World War hero is set to cycle 400 miles to commemorate his ancestor’s sacrifice – 100 years to the day after his forbear was blinded in action.

42-year-old Northampton resident Marc Snelson will be cycling from Widnes, Cheshire to Ypres, Belgium in memory of his great-grandfather, John Watson Kerr, who was blinded by a sniper in 1914.

A Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards, John served from the very beginning of the war until being shot and blinded in the battle of Ypres just two months later.

Marc's five-day, 400-mile route will take him from John's grave in Cheshire to Polygon Wood Cemetery near Ypres and conclude on the 26th October - 100 years to the day since the fateful shot which stole John's sight.

Marc will be raising money for Blind Veterans UK, founded in 1915, we helped John regain his independence after being wounded, training him to become a mat-maker - a trade he kept up for over 30 years.

Marc says: "His mat-making supported him and his family, so there's every possibility I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Blind Veterans UK helping him in those early years.

"I never got the chance to meet him unfortunately, but my grandmother remembers him as a very stoic man who didn't talk about the War much. I started doing some research on him a couple of years ago and when I realised that it was coming up to the 100th anniversary of him being wounded, I just felt I had to mark it somehow.

"I'm going to be in Ypres 100 years to the day after he was shot and I think that's really important - if it was one day earlier or one day later, it just wouldn't be the same."

Marc is hoping to raise £2,500 for Blind Veterans UK, which still supports vision-impaired military veterans nearly 100 years after John first came to us. Initially set up to help veterans blinded in action, we now support blind veterans regardless of when or how they lost their sight.

To sponsor Marc on his ride, please visit his just giving page. For more information about Blind Veterans UK's work, please visit the about us page on our website.