Family follows in the footsteps of wartime invasion heroes

Richard Atha with his wife Amanda and children Joshua, Jessica and Charlotte.
Richard Atha with his wife Amanda and children Joshua, Jessica and Charlotte.

AN RAF engineer and his family are embarking on a 2,000-mile expedition, which will take them through six countries in 11 days, to raise money for charity.

Sergeant Richard Atha, who is part of Air Surveillance and Control Systems at RAF Boulmer, his wife Amanda and their three young children, are tackling the Help for Heroes European 4x4 Rally 2011.

Their team, Airborne Ranger Rovers, is one of more than 40 taking part in the event, which started on Saturday.

It follows the route and tells the story of the Allied Invasion from 1944-45 through Europe, and includes parts fabled by the Band of Brothers book and television series.

In addition to Normandy, the rally route will visit the Market Garden and Rhine offensives at Arnhem, Holland, and Bastogne in Belgium.

The journey ends at Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden, Germany.

The 4x4 challenge is part military history tour, part off-road driving, part club-type social and will include fun activities.

Richard admits it will be a challenge but said Help for Heroes – which supports those who have been wounded in Britain’s current conflicts – is a worthy cause.

While the 32-year-old is still a serving RAF member, Amanda, 37, left the RAF four years ago, having completed 14-and-a-half years’ service, and their families also have strong military links.

Richard said: “Between us, our families have many years of military service and hopefully many more to come. We all find our lives are touched more and more by people we know or friends of friends who have been affected by conflict.

“Our men and women of the Armed Forces do their jobs day in day out without question to maintain our safety both home and abroad and by supporting us in our quest to complete the rally, you are giving your support to the great work that Help for Heroes does.”

For details of the challenge, and to make a donation, visit