CHALLENGE: Mark Hobson will cycle to France, where his grandmother’s ashes will be interred at the war grave of her late husband, who died in June 1944
CHALLENGE: Mark Hobson will cycle to France, where his grandmother’s ashes will be interred at the war grave of her late husband, who died in June 1944

A BARNARD Castle cyclist is hoping to raise awareness of mental health problems suffered by ex-service personnel by pedalling 400 miles to France where he will reunite his grandparents at his grandfather’s war grave.

Mark Hobson will visit the St Manvieu war cemetery, in Cheux, at the end of next month where he will pay his respects to his grandfather, John Hobson.

John Hobson served with the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry Royal Armoured Corps in the Second World War.

He was killed in combat on June 30, 1944, aged 25. His widow Daphne was told by his fellow comrades that his sacrifice saved their lives.

Mr Hobson, 52, will meet other family members in France and together they will inter Daphne’s ashes at the war grave.

Mr Hobson, who rides with Teesdale CRC, said: “Since Daphne died in 2016 it is something, as a family, that we have wanted to do. I thought, I’m into cycling and I would like to do a tour that way. I’ve done plenty of bike trips but I’m always looking for something different to do. I thought it was a good idea.”

Mr Hobson will leave Barnard Castle on May 22 and head to Portsmouth where he will board the ferry to Caen. The family will visit the cemetery on May 28, which would have been John and Daphne’s wedding anniversary.

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He said: “It is a special trip and I am excited to be doing it.

“It will be a really sombre occasion when we get there. I think it is nice that my grandparents will be together again after all this time.

“I’ve done 200 miles in 12 hours before. I have also done four or five days before but I have never done it self-supported. It is going to be a challenge.”

Although Mr Hobson is funding the trip, he is hoping to raise money for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

The charity has supported Mark’s father-in-law, Cliff Burrage, as well as a close friend. Mr Hobson has set a fundraising goal of £1,000.

To donate, visit www.just giving.com/fundraising/mark-hobson6.