2nd March 2020 Fiona Campbell

Serving members from all three Services – Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force – got on their bikes and stormed an iconic castle in East Lothian as they helped launch this year’s Poppyscotland Sportive cycling event.


The Forces personnel were on hand at Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick, to lend their support to one of the biggest annual fundraisers run by the leading Armed Forces charity. As the event approaches its seventh year, the Poppyscotland Sportive has already raised an incredible £250,000 for the organisation’s work in supporting veterans and their families across the country.


The annual fundraising event in East Lothian and the Scottish Borders, which takes place this year on Sunday, 27th September and attracts around 1,000 riders, is being sponsored by renewable energy firm Fred. Olsen Renewables.


Getting on their bikes for Poppyscotland were: Lance Corporal Alexander Byham, 22, who serves in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and is from Inverness; Trooper Samuel McCarthy, 23, who serves in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and is from Berkshire; Chief Petty Officer Paul O’Neill, 51, who serves in the Royal Navy, and is from Rosyth; Regiment Gunner Nathan Nicholas, 23, who serves in the RAF, and is from Gorebridge; Trooper Scott Cadwell, 29, from Falkirk, who serves in the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry; and David Myhowycz, 39, from Crossgates, in Fife, who serves in the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.


Chief Petty Officer Paul O’Neill said: “I was delighted to be asked to help launch this year’s Poppyscotland Sportive and it was great teaming up with colleagues from the other Services.  Did I mind getting my feet wet? Of course not – I am happy to do anything asked to support a Poppyscotland event that raises money to help the Armed Forces community all over the country. I hope hundreds more will now take up the challenge to get on their bikes to help raise money for this wonderful charity.”


Poppyscotland’s Katriona Harding, who organises the event, said: “Today is all about telling cyclists across the country that your much-loved Sportive is back again. The Sportive is always a sell-out event, so we encourage participants to sign up as soon as possible.


“It is a privilege for us to have Fred. Olsen Renewables on board as our sponsor again this year. Along with their support, and the generosity of those taking part, the Poppyscotland Sportive has raised a quarter of a million pounds over the past few years. This is money that goes directly to our Welfare Services team as they work tirelessly to support veterans throughout the country and shows that we are behind them, always. What’s more, 100 per cent of the sign-up fee and any sponsorship raised by participants goes directly to Poppyscotland.


“We could not do this without the support of Fred. Olsen Renewables, along with our other key sponsors, namely Bramik Foods Ltd for their ongoing support and providing healthy food for the riders at the feeding stations; Cirrus Logics for their sponsorship commitment; and Leith Cycle Co for providing mechanical support and bikes for the photoshoot.”


And Katriona added: “I think it’s important to let residents in East Lothian know that the Poppyscotland Sportive is not a closed-road event. It has been designed by our committee of experienced local cyclists to cause as little disruption as possible and we are in regular contact with a number of community councils, but, of course, I would welcome any feedback from the public.”


Best known for running the iconic Scottish Poppy Appeal, Poppyscotland reaches out to those who have served, those still serving, and their families at times of crisis and need by offering vital, practical advice, assistance and funding. The charity believes that no veteran should live without the prospect of employment, good health and a home, and we all have part to play in achieving this.


To take part in the 2020 Poppyscotland Sportive, or for more information, please contact Katriona Harding, Events Fundraising Manager at Poppyscotland, on 0131 557 2782, or at, or by visiting