Image of FS Jon Burt-Matthews with children

Tuesday 16th April 2019

Three Air Traffic Controllers from RAF Benson are planning to cycle from their Oxfordshire base to Paris in just two days. The challenge is taking place at the end of April 2019, so they have a little over 3 weeks to prepare themselves for the 250-mile expedition.  They hope to raise £2,000 for the charity Little Troopers.

The team consists of Sqn Ldr Si Stait, FS Jon Burt-Matthews and Sgt Ian Emery who between them have 5 Little Troopers (children with parents serving in the forces). The charity Little Troopers is committed to providing support and resources to everyone involved in the care of military children.

The three cyclists have all been deployed during their children’s lifetime. Jon and Ian have been deployed to the Falkland Islands in 2014 and 2016 respectively and Si’s last detachment was to Kabul in 2018.

Jon explains:
“Every time I move, it’s a reminder of what all our Service families and children go through.”

It is going to be a tough two days as they will only have 4 hours to sleep on the ferry and then it will be back on the bikes for the long cycle to Paris. The team will be supported by family and friends including Trudi Larner, the mother of an RAF airman, who is organising an afternoon tea to help the team reach their £2,000 target.

Ian’s wife, Suzanne, first heard of Little Troopers in 2016 when the charity organised football training with Chelsea Football Club.  Their son, Matthew, joined the event and really enjoyed the day as it gave him something to focus on other than Dad being away. Since then, Jon and his family have taken part in various activities with Little Troopers including the Snowdon challenge and a camping weekend last year.

Louise Fetigan, the founder of the charity, said:
“We love that families come to and enjoy our events and it’s only with their fundraising that we can keep providing things like the Little Treasures app and our separation packs that are valued by so many children, parents and schools.  We all wish good luck to Jon, Ian and Simon with their amazing challenge.” For more information about the charity, visit our website.

See also: Military support organisations

Image: FS Jon Burt-Matthews

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