We're very pleased to share with you this story from one of our supporters, Henry. Henry, together with his cousin Dan, will be cycling over 1,300km from Belgium to Spain in memory of their Grandad who was rescued by some incredibly courageous people after parachuting out of his plane during WW2. Henry and Dan will be retracing the route that their Grandad took through Europe to raise money for My Name is Kumar – they aim to raise £1 for every km cycled! Henry has shared his story with us here on our blog, please head to his site to find out even more (and see some pretty cool photos!).
HENRY: People looking after others in desperate need is something I have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, if it wasn’t for the courageous actions of a certain group of people I probably wouldn’t be alive today and my Grandad’s story would be a very different one.
In 1943 my Grandad Peter was just 22 years old when he found himself falling towards Belgium in a parachute. He was a navigator for the Royal Air Force and flew in a Lancaster bomber aircraft with a crew of 6 others during World War 2. On the night of 9 August, on their return from a bombing raid over Germany, their plane was attacked by German forces and they quickly had to evacuate. Landing in the south of occupied Belgium, Peter was split up from the other 3 surviving crew members. What follows is an almost miraculous escape through Belgium, France and Spain that was only possible thanks to the bravery of dozens of people, on what was known as the Le Réseau Comète or, in English, The Comet Line.
I never met my Grandad Peter, who died before I was born, but through this story and the pictures and letters of his that have survived I’ve begun to feel like I know him well. What’s more, with such an amazing story to tell I knew that one day I would have to share this with the world and retrace his journey. As it happens, my cousin Dan had a similar idea and after a recent conversion to cycling we thought we would ride the route on our bikes.
So on Saturday 2 April we will be arriving in Brussels to begin a 1,335km journey that will take us through a few of the key places Peter visited on his journey. In 2 weeks we plan to cycle from Brussels to Pamplona in the Spanish pyrenees, where Peter finally found refuge after escaping occupied Europe.
We want to remember him and all those who risked their lives to save his (the punishment for helping airmen escape was either death or the concentration camps). We also want to continue in the spirit of helping others in vulnerable situations by raising money for My Name is Kumar. We aim to raise £1 for every kilometre pedalled on our journey and thanks to some very generous friends and family, we’ve already got 290km covered! If you can help us get to the finish line in Pamplona with a donation big or small, we would really appreciate it.
Once the ride is complete, I’ll be flying out to India in May to visit the children and the community in Londor and see how all of the money raised will be spent. I’ll be keeping everyone up to date through our blog and can’t wait to meet all of the kids. I’m eager to see how the amazing work of My Name is Kumar is helping some of the most vulnerable people in this community escape poverty.
Thank you for reading. Please share our story with others and, if you can, support our cause with a donation to My Name is Kumar through Givey.