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Normandy Veteran Recreates Channel Crossing Distance for Charity Challenge

Normandy Veteran, Len Gibbon, 96, has decided to recreate his historic journey across the Channel by cycling the distance from Portsmouth to Gold Beach on a static bike in aid of charity, Care for Veterans.

Len aims to complete the 104-mile distance by 6th June, which will mark the 76th anniversary of the first Normandy landings.

Fellow resident and Normandy veteran, Peter, 95, is supporting Len with his challenge by cycling his own 104-miles. Peter also landed at Gold Beach, a few days after the invasion started. The men are cycling on separate occasions, of course, to ensure they keep their distance.

Originally from Elephant and Castle in London, Len joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a Despatch Rider when he was just 20 years old. In early June 1944, Len got married and then four days later he was posted to Normandy. He arrived there on the 14th June, eight days into the operation.

Len was in Normandy through to the end of the invasion, then went to the Netherlands via Brussels, and was part of Operation Market Garden in September of 1944. From there, he was posted in Germany, which is where he was when the War ended.

Len came to live at Care for Veterans in December 2019. He realised he needed extra help after having several falls at home and his walking had become unbalanced. He loves dancing and so the physiotherapists at the charity incorporate this into his sessions; he loves to do the ‘Cha Cha’.

He said, “Although I’m 96, I still like to be doing something. I like to have a dance at the concerts they have sometimes. I have physio as well, which I really enjoy. I’m doing this challenge to help raise money for Care for Veterans because it’s a wonderful place. It’s going really well so far, hopefully I’ll finish on time!”

Based in Worthing, West Sussex, Care for Veterans has provided care and rehabilitation to physically disabled ex-Service personnel and their families since 1919. The charity receives no regular government funding and must raise £1.9 million this year to provide its award-winning care to the veterans who live there.

Len and Peter’s challenge comes at a time when the charity needs it most. Due to the current situation, many of the events and initiatives that Care for Veterans had organised to raise vital funds have been postponed or cancelled, so the gentlemen hope to raise as much as they can to support the charity that cares for them.

You can show Len and Peter your support by donating via their JustGiving page:

Normandy veteran, Peter, taking on his challenge

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