A VETERAN got back on his bike to raise awareness and money for a new armed forces centre in Leigh.

Former Parachute Regiment member Royston Brett completed the British Heart Foundation’s 52-mile Manchester to Blackpool Night Ride in an impressive time of 3hrs 45mins on Saturday despite having to endure a strong headwind and torrential rain in the closing stages.

The 45-year-old was raising money for both the foundation and Leigh Veterans Pathway, a new centre at the old methodist church on King Street that directs veterans to housing help and support sessions for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is funded by four veterans.

Royston, who last month cycled 500 miles in five days in protest to ongoing prosecutions against British soldiers who served during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, said: “The Night Ride went really well and I am hoping it will see me raise at least £500 for Leigh Veterans Pathway. That should be enough to cover three months’ rent, keeping it open until after Christmas.

“Leigh Veterans Pathway is a great place for veterans to go to when they need help but it is difficult to keep it running as it is self-funded.

“Wigan Council said it was going to build an armed services hub two years ago and it is taking too long for this to happen and veterans like me are getting frustrated by it.

“With the plan being for the hub to be based in Wigan, this is far from ideal for the people of Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and other areas of the borough, who may not be able to travel there.

“If we get more organisations like Leigh Veterans Pathway set up I think they could also be part of a central hub based in Wigan.”

Royston, from Golborne, said he is in discussion with councillors about setting up veteran support organisations across the borough.

He added: “I want to work with the council to support ex-servicemen and women as best as we can.”

Leigh Veterans Pathway is open from 9am to 2pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

To make a donation call into the centre or contact Graham Young on 07914 375566. To make a donation towards Royston’s Night Ride challenge call him on 07594 926343.