When Army reservist Mark Ayre heard his regiment planned to mark the centenary of two Victoria Crosses with a charity bike ride he decided a tandem was needed.
The former King Edward VI School pupil, who lives in Horringer, built bikes as a hobby business after leaving university though he is now is a director of London bespoke event company British Experience.
He admits: “I’ve never ridden a tandem in my life and I’ve never made one – let’s hope it works.”
TD Vehicles, of Moreton Hall, prepared the frame and Mark used parts from about six bikes to complete it. Sponsorship from Cabot Consulting Group means all the money Mark and his tandem co-pilot Andrew Grevette raise will go to The Soldiers’ Charity (formerly Army Benevolent Fund).
He finished the tandem this week with graphics by Bury’s Coastline Graphics bearing the names of Lieutenants Reginald Haine and Alfred Pollard (see below).
The two VCs were members of the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the Army with whom Mark, 28, is a gunner in the Parachute Gun Troop.
The regiment will mark the 100th anniversary of the action on April 28 and 29 1917, when the lieutenants won Victoria Crosses, by cycling 280km from their London headquarters to the battlefield at Gavrelle near Arras.
The team will comprise 26 on ordinary bicycles and Mark and Andrew on the tandem.
++In April 1917 the British had taken a salient jutting into German lines at Gavrelle and the enemy threatened to encircle them.
Reginald Haine’s citation says: “Second-Lieutenant Haine organised and led with the utmost gallantry six [hand grenade] attacks against a strong point which dangerously threatened our communication, capturing the position together with fifty prisoners and two machine guns.” When the Germans counter attacked, he resisted all night and then led another attack in the morning. Meanwhile, Alfred Pollard saw troops next to his position falling back from an attack. With only four men he led a hand grenade counter attack which drove the Germans back. His citation praises his ‘utter contempt of danger’.
You can support Mark at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TandemVC