Hundreds of walkers will be crossing 13 bridges of London in a charity walk on Armed Forces Day in a bid to ensure Britain’s capital city shows its support for the Armed Forces community.
Ian Cohen, Global Head Market Structure & Execution Strategy at HSBC Global Asset Management and chair of HSBC Military Network, organised the event after searching for London-based Armed Forces Day celebrations but discovered to his surprise that there wasn't a main event in the nation's capital.
Mr Cohen said:
"I couldn’t find an event that was essentially broad appeal, not tied to a specific borough or venue, and open to any or all in London of all abilities. Hopefully 13 Bridges takes us in the right direction."
A group of 500 walkers are expected to take part in the 13 Bridges Walk, on June 29, which is promoted as a relaxed 10-mile stroll across 13 of the capital’s bridges.
There are some other localised events marking Armed Forces Day in the capital, ranging from plays in the West End, British Legion events in boroughs such as Barking, to a British Legion dance in the East End, to family activities at the National Army Museum.
London boroughs of Haringey, Barnet, Merton, Greenwich and Barking are all holding small military flag-raising events, displays or fairs to mark Armed Forces Day.
However, Mr Cohen was surprised there was no public celebration that would involve the whole community in the heart of the capital city and one which everyone in all communities could get behind and join in with - and so the public showcase of a walking show of support that links up the capital's main bridges was created, linking up all parts of the city that the walk will weave through.
Mr Cohen, an Army reservist, hopes the walk, which has already received corporate backing from HSBC, KPMG and Transport For London, will go on to become an annual event with thousands taking part in years to come.
"We are capping this inaugural event to 500 participants to keep within public event health and safety requirements, however if successful, the plan is to scale this to 5,000 next year."
All abilities, including children, prams and wheelchairs, are invited to walk the iconic river route through the city centre.
Those taking part will set off in groups of 20, accompanied by a uniformed reservist marshal.
Walkers will have SSAFA T-shirts at the start to show their support for the charity.
The walk follows a route via Battersea Bridge across the River Thames and ending at HMS President in the Docklands.
There is no registration fee but those taking part are encouraged to raise funds for SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity, which provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families or dependents.
Organisers are hoping everyone taking part will raise at least £50 each to support the charity.
Walkers can choose to either walk the entire route across all 13 bridges, starting at Eel Brook Common and ending at the Docklands, or they can make the walk as long or as short as they wish, joining in or ending their walk at any of the bridges along the way.
It is being stressed that the 13 Bridges Walk is a community and family event, is not a speed trial.
Mr Cohen said:
"What we wanted is to provide an opportunity for anyone and everyone to participate, as a means to celebrate and show a small gesture of appreciation for the men and women of our Armed Forces."
Anyone wishing to donate to the fundraising for the 13 Bridges Walk can add funds to the event's Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SSAFA-13-Bridges