A FORMER ARMY major and his novice cyclist wife are planning to pedal 2,300km through France and Spain to raise valuable funds for Welsh veterans campaign Change Step.
Jonathan and Amanda Barnett, from Brecon, have only four weeks to cycle from Cherbourg in the north of France to the Rock of Gibraltar at the southern end of Spain next month.
The couple will cover about 100km a day in the heat of an Iberian summer, and hope to raise a total of £5,000 to support the veteran-to-veteran peer mentoring service.
Jonathan – known as ‘Barney’ – spent 17 years in the Royal Regiment of Wales, which was later amalgamated into The Royal Welsh.
He said the cycling challenge came about when he was forced to call off an expedition to the Himalayas.
“But I wanted to do a challenge that was still a real challenge,” Barney, 53, said.
“So I picked up this idea
that we would cycle through France and Spain – and then Amanda said why don’t I do it with you?
“And, having never really been on a bike before, she started cycling last August and is doing an awesome job.”
Gibraltar has a special resonance for Barney and Amanda, 54, because the couple were posted there for two years two decades ago.
They chose to support Change Step because of the Wales-wide campaign’s record in effective peer mentoring.
“Military service is very much in your blood, and around Brecon you are constantly reminded of it,” Barney said.
“Over the last few years, with Afghanistan and elsewhere – we know a few guys who have been injured and just felt that we had to do something.”
Delivered by veterans for veterans, Change Step offers provides practical help for former members of the forces and reservists — including support with mental health, substance misuse, criminal justice and other issues.
The campaign has supported around 1,200 veterans and their families since being launched in 2014, and has been hailed as a “best-in-class” and “value for money” service by the Forces in Mind Trust.
Director Geraint Jones thanked the Barnetts in advance for their efforts in the saddle.
“We’re bowled over by the kindness of Barney and Amanda and wish them all the best on their ride,” he said.
To learn more about Barney and Amanda’s Cherbourg to Gibraltar Challenge and make your donation, visit www.justgiving.com/c2g2017.
To find out more about Change Step, visit www.changestepwales.co.uk or search ChangeStepWales on Facebook and Twitter