Heroes from 7/7 raise money for armed servicesBy Caroline Cook
May 31, 2011
A team of unsung heroes who helped rescue victims of the 7/7 London bombings are taking on a canoeing challenge to raise money for an armed forces charity.
Wokingham man Ricky Woods and pals Mick Linehan, from Iver Heath and Glen Maeght, from Brentford, will be canoeing along the non-tidal Thames in July to raise £5,000 for Help for Heroes.
The three pals all work for the emergency response unit for the London Underground and attended the scene of the Edgware Road bomb blast in July 2005.
Mr Woods, 43, helped victims coming out of the tube station and then went into the devastated train wreck to make sure the electricity was turned off.
He said: “We were on shift that day and we got a call to Liverpool Street to go to a cable that had exploded and we got diverted to Edgware Road.
“When we arrived they were getting people out so we assisted with that and then we went inside.
“I went through the train to make sure the electricity was off and once everyone was out it was a crime scene so we were not allowed down there.”
Mr Woods, who will be canoeing 137 miles as part of the charity challenge, said he felt the criticism the emergency services have received during the 7/7 inquest earlier is unfair because everyone did what they could on the day.
He said: “I think the services have got a bit of a kick in the teeth because being there on the day, the things they were doing, even things like Marks and Spencer just opened up and said to people help yourselves. Everyone was brilliant on the day.
“I remember when we came out of the tunnels people were clapping and it was all quite emotional. Everyone pulled together and if you were not there it’s hard to imagine.
“They had the phone lines off and all we heard was rumours of more bombs going off.
“As we were doing our work we heard there was a bomb on the motorway and all sorts of things.”
Mr Woods told how the emergency response unit had to spend weeks in the wake of the bombs bubble-wrapping the wrecked train carriages so they could be sent off for forensic testing.
The teams spent long days in the underground trying to remove the vehicles and Mr Woods said they were inspired to do something for charity following the events.
Mr Woods’ wife, Natasha, has been organising the challenge which will see the men set off from Cricklade in Wiltshire on Monday, July 4, for a six day expedition.
Mrs Woods said: “None of them have ever canoed before and it is completely out of their comfort zone so they have been training with the Wokingham Canoe Club who are also supporting them with all their equipment.
“They were all emergency response for the bombs in London and they wanted to do something for Help for Heroes and this was something different to do.”
The trio will be canoeing for between 20 and 30 miles a day and setting up tents on the riverbank to sleep overnight.
They have been training hard with Earl Hewett from the Wokingham Canoe Club who has been putting them through their paces and helping them get used to the equipment.
Mrs Woods said: “They’re really looking forward to it. They’re all trying out the equipment so they feel as if it’s not going to be too much hard work on the day but it is going to be tough.
“They need all the support they can get to keep them going.”
In the run up to the expedition the group have also been hard at work completing fundraising tasks to try and hit their £5,000 target.
And they have also received the backing of Barclays Bank which matched donations pound for pound during a weekend of fundraising at the branch in Market Place, Wokingham, where Mrs Woods is assistant manager.
The canoeists set up rowing machines in the window of the shop on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, with shoppers giving donations for the appeal.
Mrs Woods said: “They were in the banking hall in the window, sort of like moving mannequins.
“We often get involved with community events at Barclays because we can do the pound for pound fund matching.”
The team raised £980 over the weekend with Barclays bringing the total to nearly £2,000.
Sponsorship is still open and people can give their donations by visiting the event’s web page at www.bmycharity.com/canoethethames2011.