x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

London to Dubai by motorbike for a cause

Three former British servicemen will cover a 9,600km route across eight countries by motorcycle before finishing at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.

Colin Harker, Chris Brice and Geoff Warren, who will be riding from London to Dubai to raise money for Help for Heroes.
Colin Harker, Chris Brice and Geoff Warren, who will be riding from London to Dubai to raise money for Help for Heroes.

DUBAI // Most people who travel from the UK to Dubai do so in the relative comfort of an airliner, with a reclining seat, hot meals and a vast choice of in-flight movies to help while away the time.

But three former British soldiers are planning to do the trip the hard way - by motorbike, on a 9,600km route across eight countries, over two weeks.

There will be few comforts as they spend 10 hours a day in the saddle, enduring late-summer temperatures when they reach Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and spending nights in tents to keep costs down.

"There won't be any frills," says Geoff Warren, 44, who will cross the Alps, steer through rough terrain and travel along desert roads before ending up at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.

Mr Warren and his companions Colin Harker, 47, and Chris Brice, 40, are embarking on the gruelling Destination Dubai 2012 trip to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity supporting British service personnel who have been wounded in conflicts.

All three work for the UK close-protection company Armatus Risks. They will travel from the company's headquarters south of London to Dubai, where Armatus has an office, accompanied by a support vehicle and carrying tents and other supplies on their Triumph Tiger bikes.

"Destination Dubai 2012 will definitely be a challenge," says Mr Warren, who spent 16 years in the Coldstream Guards and is leading the group. "But it needs to be to deserve the support we have and hope to get.

"Our families will worry while we're away, but they know this is for a good cause. We just hope as many people as possible follow us on our social-media sites, engage with and support us, and make a donation to help us raise as much money as possible."

Mr Warren's companions served in the Royal Military Police. Between them the three men have spent more than 50 years in the British Army and took part in operational tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

They returned unscathed and say the trip is a way of giving back. All three have wives and children.

They will depart on September 8 and plan to visit a number of war graves along the way to pay their respects to fallen comrades. The details of the route and the timings of their arrival in the UAE and Dubai have yet to be finalised.

The expedition has won the support of Prince Harry and the UK prime minister, David Cameron.

A spokesman for the Prince told the UK paper The Sun, which is backing the trip: "Harry is a strong supporter of Help for Heroes and the work the charity does in aid of wounded service personnel and their families."

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron told the men he admired their "courage and enterprise".

Guy Warrington, the UK consul general in Dubai, said: "This is a great challenge for an extremely worthwhile cause.

"I was delighted that over Dh1 million was raised for Help for Heroes at a recent event held at the British Embassy in Dubai. I wish them the very best for this exciting adventure."

Bryn Parry, the chief executive of Help for Heroes, says: "Destination Dubai is a brilliant example of people taking on a challenge, rallying support and accomplishing something extraordinary while they raise money for a wonderful cause."

The men are not taking the challenge lightly.

"For three family men in their 40s, this is a serious departure from everyday life. But we're determined to do it," Mr Warren says.

"Right at the heart of it is our desire to do something in honour of service personnel and their families as they bravely adapt to life after serious injury.

"They are our cause, but also our inspiration."

csimpson@thenational.ae

* Donations can be made at www.bmycharity.com/destinationdubai2012