Fundraising Dambusters are ready to Ride again for 80th anniversary - and you can join them

Next year marks 80 years since one of the most daring raids of the world wars, and you can help mark the occasion by saddling up for a popular peddling fundraiser.

The Dambusters Ride 2022 on behalf of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund started at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa.
The Dambusters Ride 2022 on behalf of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund started at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa.

Registration is now open for the Dambusters Ride, a cycle fundraiser organised by the RAF Benevolent Fund, to pay tribute to the Dambusters, members of the RAF's 617 Squadron who were assembled to complete Operation Chastise – to bomb three dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley on the night of May 16-17, 1943.

2023 marks 80 years since the risky raid, in which the revolutionary bouncing bomb, the brainchild of engineer Barnes Wallis, was dropped at low level on Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley, which was a success but claimed the lives of 53 of the 113 aircrew, and three others became prisoners of war.

The Dambusters Ride consists of two elements: a flexible Virtual Ride and a Heritage Ride, which will take place on Saturday 13 May, starting and finishing at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa – the home of the Dambusters.

The physical Heritage Ride includes 100 miles, 80 miles or 40 miles options, and those taking part in the Virtual Ride option, fundraisers from all over the world will be taking part in the event.

Whether you want to take part on your cycling machine at home, attend the Heritage Rides in Lincolnshire, the Dambusters Ride is open for everyone and raises valuable funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which provides financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families.

This includes grants to help with financial difficulty, mental health support, Airplay youth clubs, and more.

George ‘Johnny’ Johnson DFM, is the last surviving member of Operation Chastise.

He said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund does incredible work supporting RAF veterans and serving personnel and I would like to thank anyone who signs up for this cycle ride. I am grateful to have never needed the support of the Fund but nonetheless I have always known they are there for those less fortunate than I.

“Not only will this event raise vital funds to support RAF personnel, past and present, it will also pay tribute to the brave men of Bomber Command who made the ultimate sacrifice on the Dambusters raid 80 years ago and throughout the Second World War.

"Their loss must never be forgotten and it is my hope through this event, a new generation will learn about the cost of the freedom they enjoy today.”

Lisa Hunt, RAF Benevolent Fund Community Fundraiser, said: “What better way is there to honour the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid than by fundraising to help support RAF veterans, personnel and their families?

“Operation Chastise was an important part of the RAF’s history, so in addition to raising much-needed funds, I hope the Dambusters Ride encourages younger generations to learn more about 617 Squadron and their brave sacrifice 80 years ago.”

To sign up for the Dambusters Ride, visit the website at https://www.rafbf.org/get-involved/events/dambusters-ride