Inspired Dorset ex-Navy Petty Officer cycles 100 miles for military charity

Date
18 April 2016 09:51

A former Royal Navy Petty Officer from Dorset will be taking on the Prudential RideLondon - Surrey 100 this July for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Don Philpott, 59 and from Weymouth, served in the Navy for 22 years and first came across Blind Veterans UK early in his career after he assisted blind veterans during a weeks respite at HMS Daedalus in 1977. He was so impressed by them and the charity that nearly 40 years on he is taking on the cycling challenge for Blind Veterans UK and so far has already raised more than £1500.

Don joined the Navy in 1975 where he became part of the Fleet Air Arm. He trained as a Weapons/Electrical Technician. Stationed at the Royal Naval Air Stations in Portland and Yeovilton, he served on several ships including HMS Diomede, HMS Achilles, HMS Hermes and HMS York working on a variety of helicopters such as the Wessex, Wasp and Lynx.

In 1977 Don was selected for the Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Crew. On their return back from Earls Court the crew were asked if they would like to help the blind veterans at HMS Daedalus in Lee-On-Solent. It was there Don first met veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan's. Veterans would visit for a week's respite and try various activities.

Don says: "We did all sorts of things with the blind veterans such as sports and swimming gala trips. There were a few who played darts and bowls, even though they had no hands. It was a humbling experience and I realised what a good cause Blind Veterans UK is."

Don assisted the veterans again in 1980 and 1984. Nowadays, veterans visit HMS Sultan rather than HMS Daedalus for a week's respite where ex-field gunners and volunteers look after them.

Don says: "The veterans never once complained about their situation. The people have changed over the years but Blind Veterans UK still cares for our blind and vision-impaired ex-Service personnel."

This will be the first time Don will tackle the 100 mile course of the Prudential RideLondon - Surrey 100.

Don says: "I'm very much looking forward to it. A few friends have done the ride previously and their enthusiasm spurred me on to sign up.

"It will be a great challenge to ride the London Olympic 2012 road race route but I'm aiming to complete it in under six hours."

Blind Veterans UK has guaranteed places available for the Prudential RideLondon - Surrey 100, which will take place on 31 July 2016. To join the team they ask for a registration fee of £25 and a sponsorship pledge of £450. If you secured a place through the ballot, Blind Veterans UK would love you to join their team. All cyclists receive a free exclusive Blind Veterans UK cycling jersey to wear during the ride.

Please visit blindveterans.org.uk/ridelondon to secure your place before 27 May 2016.

To support Don as he takes on RideLondon for Blind Veterans UK, please visit justgiving.com/don-philpott.