Neil gets on his bike to complete Afghan charity cyclE challenge

Sponsored cyclist Neil Craggs at the Camp Bastion fund-raiser
Sponsored cyclist Neil Craggs at the Camp Bastion fund-raiser

TERI RAF firefighter Neil Craggs has used pedal power to raise vital funds for charity.

The 34-year-old was coming to the end of his four-month tour at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

But there were no thoughts of taking it easy as the member of Red Watch joined colleagues on a sponsored cycle.

He told the Hawick News this week: “About ten weeks into our detachment a fellow firefighter had to be sent on compassionate leave as his son was not well with doctors not knowing what was up.

“After two weeks of tests he got told his son Roman, who was 11-months-old, had been diagnosed with a rare and incurable condition called Alphers Disease that has affected his immune system.

“This condition will mean that Roman will require 24 hour care and specialist treatment for what time he has left.”

The sponsored event was called Ride for Roman and involved a 24-hour bike ride to raise as much money as possible to help with the tiny tot’s care. Altogether £1,360 was raised and 1,386km were covered – with former Hawick YM player Neil contributing with 79km during his two-hour stint.

He said: “I have two boys, Joe who is 17-months-old and Harry who is four-and-a-half-months-old. He was only two-weeks-old when I left to go out to Afghanistan.

“As a family man I wouldn’t wish this illness or experience on anybody.”

This is not the first time Neil, who moved to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire before his latest tour, has been posted abroad. It is his second time in Afghanistan, while he has also been to the Falklands, Iraq, Cyprus, Mussanah (Oman) and Minhad (United Arab Emirates).

However, the former Drumlanrig and high school pupil admitted this time has been difficult being away from his wife Sarah and young family.

Neil, who arrived back in the UK on Tuesday, said: “It’s not been too bad, but it’s been a bit strange being away from my two boys.

“I’ve kept quite busy with various incidents including an explosive storage area fire.”