Meet the woman taking on the journey of a lifetime to honour her late father
PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 October 2014
Inspired to remember her late father and the sacrifices he made almost 70 years ago, Annmarie Jones is cycling to Paris to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.
Mrs Jones grew up on Wheatley Road while her father James Clifford worked for Eastern Counties bus company in the 1970s.
A well-known figure in Norwich, he then went on to run the cleaning stores at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
When Mrs Jones lost her father to leukaemia three years ago, she wanted to do something to honour his memory, and picked 2015 as the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War to do it.
“When I think of my dad, a very ordinary man who grew up in South East London, I realise he was denied many of the opportunities afforded to me,” said Mrs Jones, 49, who now lives in Derby.
“But people of my age owe people like him a debt that can never be fully repaid, so this ride is to honour this wonderful man who was such a good, kind and gentle person.
“I am also doing this to honour each and every one of his comrades who did not make it home. As he said to me, they were the heroes.”
Mr Clifford, who died aged 85 in 2011, never spoke about his wartime service with the First Battalion Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, only telling his daughter repeatedly ‘war is a terrible thing’.
The one detail he did mention time after time was his company radio operator shot in February 1945, just before Mr Clifford himself was wounded.
Mrs Jones plans to take a poppy with her when she cycles from London to Paris in 2015. After the ride, she hopes to track down the man’s grave, which she thinks may be in Germany, and leave the poppy there as a symbol that her father never forgot him.
So far, Mrs Jones has raised nearly £900 of her £1300 target making organic handsoaps and donations.
“I have been completely overwhelmed at times at the generosity of people, especially those I have never met before,” she said.
And the four-day, 280 mile ride poses a challenge for the woman who confesses to never having cycled more than 60 miles in one go.
“Family and friends have promised to be waiting for me when I reach the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the ride,” she said. “I only wish that my dad could be there to meet me too.”
To donate, visit justgiving.com/annmariejones50.
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