Help for Heroes set to hit £100m after Paris bike ride

Andy Newell, retired para: "I wanted to give something back"

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Forces' charity Help for Heroes is set to reach £100m in public donations, after three and a half years of work.

It is hoped a fundraising bike ride through the battlefields of France will push through the barrier, raising £1m.

Around 300 of the charity's supporters will start the bike ride from Portsmouth on Sunday afternoon, finishing in Paris on Friday.

The charity builds specialist recovery centres for soldiers injured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some of the cyclists have lost limbs and will be using their hands to operate their bikes.

Andy Newell, who was one of the soldiers who inspired the charity, is taking part in the ride.

He was shot through the arm by a rogue Afghan policeman while he served in Afghanistan and spent months in hospital.

The retired Para told the BBC: "People stepped up to the mark for me when I needed it, from Help for Heroes and other soldiers I knew and didn't know helped me, so I want to do my bit for them."

'Faith in humanity'

The charity's founders, Bryn and Emma Parry, say they are amazed at the public's generosity.

But they urged people to continue their support to ensure it could provide a lifetime of support for men and women who have sustained life-changing injuries.

Bryn Parry, said: "It has really restored my faith in humanity - that people are prepared to do this, and they're not just giving money, they're giving of themselves, and most of the money we raise is people doing something."

They said when they launched the charity they expected to raise a few thousand pounds.

Emma Parry said: "One of my very special memories was opening, or a cheque being opened in the office, for £98,000 in January 2008. We'll never forget it.

"We opened the cheque and read the amount - I think someone had to come and check that it was the right amount - it was just phenomenal to think someone would be generous enough to do that."

The charity raised £8m towards the building of a swimming pool and gym complex at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Headley, Surrey. The complex was opened by Prince William last year.

Help for Heroes is also building several other recovery units across the UK.

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