Paying respects despite the rain

Father and son cycling duo Joe and Oliver Burns battled some of the worst weather spring could throw at them to reach the Memorial and pay their respects to Flt Lt Owen V Burns, one of the Few, on Monday (30 April).

Joe (Owen’s son) and grandson Oliver called in at the Memorial to pay tribute to him and his fellow aircrew en route to their final desination in France, where they honoured Joe’s grandfather (Oliver’s great-grandfather), who died as a reult of wounds he received towards the end of the First World War 100 years ago on Tuesday (1 July).

The two men made the 400-plus mile journey from Birkenhead by bike, with their last leg from Canterbury coinciding with gale force winds and torrential rain. A puncture two miles from Capel-le-Ferne made life particularly difficult for Oliver.

Despite the challenges, they made it to the Memorial for a photo call and continued their journey the next day to Etaples Military Cemetery in northern France, where Sgt Owen Valentine Burns (senior) was buried after being injured in action in 1918.

Flt Lt Burns died on 30 June 2015, just weeks after being presented to Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of The Wing. His widow Deborah, now one of the charity’s trustees, met her son and grandson at The Wing and travelled in the support vehicle driven by Owen’s son-in-law Graham Bell for the rest of the trip to Etaples.

Joe and Oliver’s ride started at the Hamilton Square war memorial in Birkenhead, where Sgt Burns is remembered, and took in his regimental museum, the Cheshire Regiment Museum in Chester, en route to the Memorial and Etaples.

The four-day sponsored ride was in aid of the Alzheimers Society, the Dementia Cafe Louth, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and other Rotary Club of Louth charities.

It’s not too late to sponsor the riders, who have so far raised well over £4,000. Just visit


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