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Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 8:55 pm
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Man on a Mission

Former Butcher, Ex-Royal Marine and Special Forces veteran, Nigel Thomas, is riding a 1940s single gear Butcher’s Bike from Land’s End to John ‘O Groats for charity and will be passing through the Lothians around now.

Nigel hopes to raise £ 1 Million for the great charities that support our soldiers – Team Army, Hire a Hero and Walk on Wales and the good works of the Ray Gravell Trust – causes very dear to his heart. And in true military style, Thomas will carry his tent and provisions in the front of the former Co-operative Society bike and will camp overnight in fields and lay-bys.

“We all rely upon our soldiers to be there when we need them.” Thomas says. “…so, I’m doing this for all the boys and girls in the Forces who need our help now – a chance to play the sports that are so vital to their physical and mental wellbeing, to find a job after leaving the military or perhaps help recovering from injury or illness.”

TV presenter Bear Grylls, a close friend of Nigel’s said, “This is going to be a tough challenge but that’s Nigel through and through – determined to help those who most need it and to do it the hard way… and with a smile to the world!”

Nigel, from Llangain, Wales, is a man on a mission: to help people get the most out of their life. “Life is unpredictable but that doesn’t mean we have to just hope for the best. There’s so much we can do – really simple things – to take control of our lives and be happy, fit and healthy. My goal is to help people find that control; this is my passion.”

Each of the four charities will support Nigel as he pedals his way north. And with their access to some remarkable people, Nigel will be greeted and celebrated by some surprising cheerleaders along the way.

The Special Forces veteran understands how hard everyday life can be.  He admits to going off the rails as a young man caring for his mother, who had Multiple Sclerosis, while also coping with his father’s alcoholism. Taken under the wing of a local butcher when he was a young teenager, Nigel showed great promise winning a number of butchery awards, including a medal at the Royal Welsh Show. It is this background as a butcher that inspired the Butcher’s Bike Challenge. Nigel still suffers from the various injuries he has collected over the years, so the Butcher’s Bike with its original and unforgiving leather saddle will certainly require stamina and a high pain threshold, “At least I am around and have limbs to feel pain” he says stoically.

And Nigel has more reasons than most to truly appreciate what it means to be happy, gainfully employed and in good health. He is lucky to be able to walk having broken his neck playing rugby in Australia and after many years in the Royal Marines and UK Special Forces he knows a few things about survival. “I’m just very practical.” he adds modestly. “Everyday life isn’t a walk in the park but I’ve learned that staying motivated, happy and healthy is essential. Life needn’t be a battle but most of us need a helping hand from time to time.

Members of the public are encouraged to turn up and support Nigel along his route which can be tracked via his website www.butchersbikechallenge.org.uk. Ultimately the goal is to raise as much money as possible for the four charities and people can do that by donating via http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ButchersBikeChallenge or text TBBC14 (The Butcher Bike Challenge 2014) with the amount you would like to donate (e.g. TBBC14 £5) to 70070.

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