A Paratrooper whose horrific death in Iraq left a “huge void” in the lives of his friends and family has been paid tribute to by a group of Leamington cyclists.
Over the course of four days, Damian and Sebastien De Scarfo, Alasdair Lightbody and Howard McColloch Wicks pedalled their way through seven countries on a gruelling journey across mountains and diverse landscapes all the way from Leamington to Milan in Italy.
They took on the 120-miles-a-day challenge to remember Alasdair’s cousin Nic Crouch, who graduated at Sandhurst in 2000 and served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was killed by a suicide bomb in Mosul on July 19 2010. He was 29 years old.
Speaking about his cousin, Alasdair said: “Nic was a kind hearted and dedicated person, strong willed and driven. From an early age he knew he wanted a life in the military and nothing would stop him.
“He was an explorer who loved challenges and pushing himself. His tragic death has left a huge void in the life of everyone who met him.”
Raising funds for the military charity Combat Stress, the four men set off from Leamington town hall last Friday and arrived in Milan on Monday - but the journey had been full of challenges.
Speaking from Italy, Damien - who along with Sebastian and Howard lives in Leamington - said: “It has been very hard with a few days of very cold and wet weather and a few punctures - but nothing major has gone wrong.
“We have all had bad days and good or better days. The Alps were very hard and some other days were long and hard due to the heat.”
As well as cycling across the Alps, the four friends traversed the Splugen Pass, cycling to heights of 6,930 ft. By the time they arrived in Milan, they had cycled a whopping 1,000 miles over a long weekend.
Damien said: “We have been through England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and seen so many amazing towns and views. We’ve been very lucky.”
John Atkins cycle shop in Leamington is supporting the cyclists by running a raffle with a prize of a bicycle. Tickets (£2) are available at the shop in Clemens Street or by calling 430211.
Nic Crouch had been awarded posthumously the Civilian Service Medal to recognise his service as a private security worker in the Middle East.
The award also fulfilled a wish he wrote down in a letter to his parents, in which he said: “If I should be killed, I should like them to know how I and all the other former soldiers contributed to the Great Game. I seek no personal glory, but many good Paras and ex-Servicemen have died supporting these operations with little or no recognition of their bravery.”
To sponsor the cyclists, visit www.justgiving.com/leamingtontomilan