27th June 2024

Cyclists, including two brothers in arms, set out on RBLI’s annual Ride with a Veteran cycle ride

Twenty-three cyclists set out from Royal British Legion Industries’ veterans’ village in Aylesford, Kent, today (Friday 28 June) on the charity’s annual Ride with a Veteran event to cycle the 173 miles to Ypres in Belgium from 28 to 30 June. As the cyclists set off from Aylesford, they were sent on their way by Pipe Major Chic Mackie to the tune of Daisy Bell (Bicycle Made for Two).


Among the riders were two brothers in arms, Tirthraj Thapa and Vinod Budhathoki, who share a powerful bond as they grew up together in Nepal and served together in the 1st Royal Gurkha Rifles. In 2010, in Helmand Province, during their second tour of Afghanistan, Tirthraj and Vinod were wounded within 24 hours of one another in IED explosions.


Showcasing the incredible strength and discipline that the Gurkhas are renowned for they have overcome life changing injuries. Just as they supported each other in war zones, the lifelong friends who live with their families in Maidstone, have supported one another as they trained together to take part in RBLI’s Ride with a Veteran.


Tirthraj Thapa, 39, a third generation Gurkha who is taking part in RBLI’s Ride with a Veteran for the fifth year, said, “I enjoy cycling, but also do this to raise money for RBLI, as after Afghanistan, it was hard to imagine what life would be like as I didn’t think I would walk again, work again, play golf, or cycle. For two years, I worked hard in rehab and can now do those things. After rehab, RBLI gave me a second chance with a career in the Signs manufacturing department at Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, and to give something back, I want to raise as much money as possible for RBLI. Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company has become a second family. As some of my colleagues were also wounded in Afghanistan, we have similar shared experiences and understand what we’ve been through.”


For Ride with a Veteran, Vinod Budhathoki, 39, is using a hand cycle that has been modified by Nigel Hill of Sidcup Cycles Workshop. Vinod, who also followed his family’s tradition to become a Gurkha, said, “I’m doing this for RBLI as they’ve helped my friends who were also injured in Afghanistan. It’s also given me a good reason to do more exercise and cycling gives me independence. This will be the longest distance I’ve cycled but I’ve trained with Tirthraj and this is a good challenge. I first used a hand cycle during rehab after my injuries and the ride to Ypres will be hard but good to do it with a group.”


In Ypres, Vinod will place the wreath for RBLI at the daily Last Post Ceremony service under the Menin Gate. As the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing bears the names of the 54,395 soldiers who were killed there during the First World War, and whose bodies have never been identified or found, it will be a poignant moment for Vinod.


RBLI’s Head of Community & Events Fundraising, Paula Ray expressed her gratitude to all participants and supporters, saying, “The Ride with a Veteran event is a powerful testament to the strength and solidarity of our community. We are deeply grateful to Tirthraj, Vinod, and all our riders for their incredible effort and dedication. As they cycle Aylesford to Ypres, the funds they raise will directly support our work to provide essential services to veterans that includes housing, employment, and welfare support.”


If you would like to sponsor Tirthraj or Vinod please go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ride-with-a-veteran-annual-cycle-ride-2024


To find out more about RBLI or take part in one of the RBLI’s fundraising events please go to https://rbli.co.uk/fundraising-upcoming-events/


RBLI’s Ride with a Veteran is sponsored by Chemring Countermeasures UK, Bridge the Gaps Safely, King’s Hill Wheelers. Cobtree, Aylesford Parish Council, Crest Engineering and BMW Arden.