THE Grandad’s Army are saddling up again to cycle 1160km from East London to Stellenbosch, in an effort to raise funds to help improve the care of paediatric burn victims at the Frere Hospital Burns Unit.
After raising R240000 to buy specialised surgical equipment for skin grafting for children suffering from burns last year, they aim to double their fundraising target and number of riders participating in the Rob Burton Memorial Ride this year.
“We have shifted our requirements and are allowing potential grandads and grandmothers to participate,” quipped the longest serving member of the Grandad’s Army, Colin Lazarus.
Prompted by a growing concern about cyclist’s safety, the riders will also honour Arthur Salzwedel and Burton, who both died tragically as a result of cycling accidents.
The 17-member team includes six of last year’s riders and 11 new recruits, three of whom are sons of the late Salzwedel, who was one of the founder members of the Grandad’s Army.
Riders will form three relay teams – the army, air force and navy – each cycling about 100km over four days in the stamina- sapping ride to Stellenbosch.
After one day’s rest, they will finish off the trip by taking part in the 100km Winelands Cycle Tour.
“We have a steep fundraising hill to climb, but we are confident that East Londoners and many people along the way, who were so supportive last year, will again rally behind this great cause,” Lazarus said.
Eyabantwana Children’s Trust (which organises and coordinates the ride) chairman Dave Morrell said: “The dermatomes made a huge difference and really brought up the standard of care last year.
“The next step is the dressing of wounds, which is in a distressing state at the moment. I am too ashamed to show the current conditions.”
Major Richard Bind, who participated last year, said he enjoyed the camaraderie and social aspect of the ride.
“We had so much fun last year and didn’t quite make our target, so we’re hoping to give it another go and raise the money.
“The people who suffer most are the children and we want to do more to help the less fortunate,” Bind said.
Norrie and Joyce Gibson, who are part of the new recruit team for this year said: “We work at the hospital and see how dreadful the change room is and wanted to help.”
Norrie, who manages to keep fit, but has never worn a cycling shirt in his life, let alone taken on such a distance, fears his bottom will have to put up with the most discomfort on the route.
“We need the camraderie to overcome the chafing, weathering and discomfort of the course,” he said.
To make your donation towards the trip, which begins on Tuesday, visit: www.eyabantwana.co.za
Fans can also follow them on Facebook at @RobBurtonMemorialRide and Twitter at @robburtonmemor1 and on Instagram at @robburtonmemorialride