A SECURITY guard based at police headquarters is gearing up for a gruelling charity bike ride through Europe.
Former soldier Martin Burnett, who works on the security desk at Fettes, is joining long-time friend Willie Malloy to undertake an epic “Rome to Home” cycle challenge to support a military charity.
The pair have been friends since serving together in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), as teenagers more than three decades ago. They have previously ridden the length and breadth of Britain to raise money for Erskine.
They were inspired to raise money for the charity after a visit to the Edinburgh home in Gilmerton.
In 2014, they cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and donated their £3500 sponsorship funds to the veterans support organisation.
Both are now gearing up for the mammoth 1500-mile journey, which starts at the Colosseum on August 1 before heading through the Austrian Alps, Germany, the Netherlands and England.
They will have to cycle between 70 and 90 miles each day through some of the most challenging terrain in Europe.
Martin and Willie will then begin their home leg – a 20-mile cycle from Gifford to Erskine Edinburgh’s base on August 20.
While admitting they face a daunting challenge, Martin is relishing the opportunity to raise more money for a worthwhile cause. He said: “Around five years ago Willie and I cycled 250 miles from Zeebrugge to Paris and this sparked our interest in long-distance riding to raise money for charity.
“We were delighted to have raised so much during our Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge and want to go further this time – both in the miles we will cover and the amount of money we want to secure for the charity.
“Erskine provides vital care and support to veterans who have given so much for their country and we want to make sure they can continue to deliver the range of services they currently offer. Any donations the public wish to make will all be very gratefully received.”
Judith Haw, of the charity, said: “What they are doing is absolutely fantastic. Their challenge was inspired by a visit to the Edinburgh Erskine Home.
“I have chatted to them both and they are very dedicated. They have been in training for months.”
The charity cares for more than 1000 residents every year at homes across Scotland and this year aims to raise £8.8 million to support veterans.
It opened and established itself as Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers in 1916. The Erskine Edinburgh Home in Gilmerton was opened by the Princess Royal in 2001. It has space for 88 residents and was the charity’s first unit outside the Erskine area.
Those who wish to support the pair can visit www.justgiving.com/rome2home2016 or text Erskine Cycle to 70707 and donate £3.