I was in a US airport earlier this week (don’t ask me which – they all look the same after a while) and heard an announcement about facilities available for US service people – somewhere to sit and eat, with a place for children and other comforts. It was delivered in that rather sonorous tone which Americans use for everything from state funerals to insurance advertisements (think Sam the Eagle as voiced by Frank Oz), and ended with the words “We salute you”. That, coupled with things like preferential queuing arrangements for service people, reminded me that the US is more overtly appreciative than the British of those who come home. We demonstrate immense respect for those who die – my home county, Oxfordshire, is where the bodies are brought to, and hundreds turn out to greet them – but successive UK governments have not been good to those who have been wounded while fighting for their country.
Those who know Nigel Murray of Huron Legal (that is, almost anyone engaged in eDisclosure/eDiscovery) will know that he surprised us all some years ago by putting his less-than-sylph-like frame through a rigourous training routine as preparation for a long cycle ride in support of the charity Help for Heroes, whose mission is to support those who are injured in body or mind whilst on active service.
Looking back through my previous articles about this courageous annual venture, I see that I have said things like:
I did once see him run, but that was across a pavement to a cab in the rain, so barely counts as an exception to the general rule.
It is time again for that annual ritual known as “Shrink the Nigel”. It is a kind of cultural fusion, merging two French traditions – the making of Pate de Foie Gras and the Tour de France – with a variant on the traditional British stiff upper lip which in this case involves stiff lower limbs.
Last year, I headed my article Nigel goes over the top on his bottom for Help for Heroes which I refer to again for its point about modern medicine sparing lives but leaving people with life-changing injuries.
Nigel will be joining four teams of wounded young men and women, a team of our UK wounded plus two teams from the US (Operation Comfort based in San Antonio, Texas and Wounded Warrior US, based countrywide) and one from Canada (Wounded Warrior Canada). There will be individuals cycling with horrific injuries having either lost limbs or suffering severe post-traumatic stress injuries – or both. They will be cycling either in “recliners” (hand powered bikes for those who have lost legs or have broken backs) or normal bikes.
Previous years rides have alternated between the First War battlefields of Flanders and those made famous after D-Day in the Second World War. This year’s begins in Paris and ends, 375 miles and 5 days later, on Blackheath in London whence a larger group cycles the final 10 miles to the Cenotaph in Whitehall. There they will attend a ceremony to commemorate those who have been killed and wounded in recent conflicts.
I take my hat off to anyone willing to put aside the comforts of life and submit to a gruelling drive for such a cause.
You can support Nigel by making a donation at http://www.bmycharity.com/nigelmmurrayh4h.