Louth RAF sergeant gears up for 300 mile Vietnam cycle for Help For Heroes

Sergeant Matthew Sanders will be casting his eyes Eastwards towards Vietnam in March 2014. Photo: Ian Holmes
Sergeant Matthew Sanders will be casting his eyes Eastwards towards Vietnam in March 2014. Photo: Ian Holmes

By day he oversees live bombing practice at RAF Donna Nook, but a Louth man is gearing up to use his firepower in a different way when he cycles across Vietnam next year.

Matthew Sanders, 41, has signed up for a six-day, 300 mile trek across the South-East Asian country and is aiming to raise thousands of pounds for the Help For Heroes charity.

The Air Weapons Range Controller was inspired to take up the challenge with around 30 others from across the globe following the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May.

Looking ahead to the ride in March, he said: “It’s a once in a lifetime challenge, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had so far and it’s the support of the public that gives me the motivation to do it.”

The Birmingham-born sergeant has been based in the control tower at RAF Donna Nook since 2011, having previously joined and left the air force, and subsequently rejoined in 1998.

The RAF sergeant signed up for the Ride Vietnam 2014 Challenge after being so shocked by events in Woolwich that he was spurred into action.

He saw the challenge online and admitted he ‘just knew’ he wanted to do it.

So far, thanks to collections in local supermarkets, Matthew has raised hundreds of pounds already towards his overall target of £3-4,000.

“It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, I’ve only ever ridden bikes for pleasure before,” he said.

“I’m hoping this can be a springboard to other things, maybe the London to Paris ride, in the future.”

The average temperature in Vietnam will be 27 degrees whilst the cycle ride is taking place, but Matthew and his fellow riders will also have to cope with jet lag and incredible downpours.

But Matthew can count on the support of his RAF friend from Waddington, Mike Sanders (no relation), who is also taking part. The pair first met when they kept receiving eachother’s mail at another air base!

And despite the scale of the task, Matthew is confident his hard work will pay off when March comes around.

“I’ve been getting up and training with 14-mile rides around the Wolds on a morning, and it’s been tough going,” he said.

“I’ll be taking it bit by bit, you have got to put it into manageable bits one mile at a time.

“It’s certainly not impossible, people are doing things like this all the time.

“It’s a great personal goal for me.”

Matthew has forked out his own registration fee of around £800 and wants ‘every penny’ to go to Help for Heroes.

He has so far secured the support of two businesses, Tweeks Cycles and Endura, and is hoping for further backing from local firms before his trip.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Matthew or any businesses looking to get involved can find out more on his website at www.ridevietnam2014.com or call him on 07889167483.