Ex-soldier riding round Britain drops in on Ottery

Pete Stopforth, who is riding around the entire Brisih coast to raise moeny for SSAFA, outside Rober

Pete Stopforth, who is riding around the entire Brisih coast to raise moeny for SSAFA, outside Roberts Hardware shop in Ottery. Pictured are store-owner Alistair, his former colleague in the military, Lee from Redferns, a former soldier himself, and Mayor Glyn Dobson with Phil Henderson from the Chamber of Commerce. - Credit: Archant

A former soldier who is riding along the entire coast of Great Britain on a moped to raise awareness of homelessness among ex-servicemen dropped into Ottery this week.

Pete Stopforth, 43, has no support team and no back-up van on his solo scooter tour round the country, covering more than 3,000 miles and sleeping rough along the way.

Starting in his home of Lowestoft, the father of three is calling on old military colleagues on the trip, including Alastair Keen, of Roberts Hardware store.

The Ottery businessman, who served with Mr Stopforth in Germany, said he was happy to welcome his old colleague to the town.

Mr Keen said the issue of ex-servicemen who fall into homelessness was a cause ‘close to his heart’, and he supports the work of SSAFA, a charity which supports the armed forces and their family.

Pete, who was homeless himself for three years when he left the army, got back on his feet he became a volunteer caseworker for SSAFA, and is doing the ride to raise money and awareness for them.

But the 43-year-old said the trip has not been easy, with ‘horizontal rain and vertical roads’ as he drove up from Cornwall, and has had to rebuild the engine and replace dozens of parts on his Vespa since setting off on April 1.

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He expects to be back home from his countrywide trip this weekend, having spoken to councils along the route to find out how they are helping the homeless.

When he dropped into Ottery on Tuesday morning, he met mayor Glyn Dobson and chamber of commerce chairman Phil Henderson, as well as plenty of locals wishing him well.

For more information on Pete’s trip visit www.ssafa.org.uk, or his Facebook page at Pete’s SSAFA Scooter Ride.