Day 7 – DofE Sophie’s Challenge! Final day & huge congrats!!

The Countess of Wessex and her team departed from RAF Halton in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in the morning at approx 9.30, to complete their challenge. They were waved off by Misbourne School Bronze Award participants. HRH also met supporters from Macintyre School.
courtesy of Christian Scott via Twitter feed

For the final leg of this challenge, (that took about 38 miles), Sophie and her team were joined by Dame Sarah Storey. Sarah, who is 38 years old, is a British road and track racing cyclist and former swimmer, multiple gold medal winner at the Paralympic Games in both sports, and three times British (able-bodied) national track champion.
via The Royal Family Twitter account

Here, I would like to take time to once again remind you of who cycled and supported The Countess, not only those past 6 and half day, but also in previous months leading up to this challenge. The team included representatives from four of HRH’s regiments; RAF Wittering; 5 Rifles; Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps and Corps of Army Music. Also representatives from the Army Physical Training Corps and Boardman bikes.

  • Rachel McKenzie, a physical training instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
  • Roy Brunning, Officer Commanding at one of RAF Wittering’s most famous units; No. 3 Mobile Catering Squadron. You will learn more about Roy, by clicking here.
  • Oli Wootton, if I’m not mistaken from 5 Rifles.
  • Jo D’Arcy, if I’m not mistaken Jo is a QARANC member and she was giving us lovely behind the scenes updates throughout this challenge.
  • Craig Bywater, Captain Craig Bywater, Bmus (Hons) Director of Music of Royal Logistic Corps Band since 2014 and member of Corps of Army Music. To learn more about Captain, click here.
  • Jamie Mitchell, PR manager at Boardman Bikes, the tallest & youngest of the team 🙂

Speaking to Express yesterday, The Countess said: “I’ve been surprised how good I feel. I thought I was going to be dragging myself through the country lanes but I’ve done so much training I think I was more than ready to do it.”
via The Royal Family Twitter account

HRH added: “I came from a standing start. The training was hard work and there were many times when I thought I’d bitten off more than I can chew. There have been a couple of moments when I’ve thought, goodness, you know, this is going to be day after day after day – am I going to be able to do it? But then you get on the bike and you really want to go. I did six days on the trot in Scotland when I was there on holiday so I knew I could sit in the saddle for a week. I knew I was capable of doing it.” Full coverage is here.
via The Royal Family Twitter account

Approximately 3 hours after departing from Aylesbury, Sophie and her team cycled along the Mall towards The Buckingham Palace. “I have never cycled along the Mall so that’s going to be a treat for everybody. We’re really excited about it. We’ll be dodging pedestrians because they close it to traffic on a Sunday, so getting there in one piece will be something, without having a last-minute disaster.”
via The Royal Family Twitter account

As The Countess and her team arrived through the Buckingham Palace’s gates you could hear song “Congratulations and Celebrations” played by a marching band. Sophie was very warmly welcomed by her husband Prince Edward, and her two, very excited kids, Lady Louise and Viscount James (with a huge hug), who surely were delighted to have their mum back home again!
via Sarah Campbell – BBC News/Deputy Royal Correspondent Twitter feed

There was also Sophie’s father, Mr Christopher Rhys-Jones who embraced his daughter and certainly he must have felt proud of this incredible achievment. Prince Edward, equally proud of his wife handed the Diamond Pin to his son, and it was James who has given the pin to his mum as a token of completing the challenge. It must have felt really great, I’m certain!
courtesy of Therese Procter via Twitter

After arriving The Countess took time to speak with many supporters, also her friends, and members of the press and media. Talking to PA she said: “If you told me that I would feel like this at the end of seven days cycling I would never have believed you. I do feel good and it has been a lovely, lovely experience. We have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather and I do think that if it had been driving wind and rain you would have seen a slightly shabbier, slightly more dishevelled and tired looking party arriving.” For full article, visit this link.

print screen of The Royal Family video

There is a great video at Royal Family Facebook & Twitter in which Sophie shows her Diamond Pin and speaks about her cycling experience. Rachel (her training instructor) also spoke to Sky News, video is here. Rachel praised HRH and her dedication to this challenge.
courtesy of Future Dreams via Twitter

You will find Daily Mail coverage here with a really fabulous interview. Express article here. Evening Standard article is here. Two great videos, including interview with HRH and handing of the pin at ITN, here. There is also a BBC video, click here. Another lovely video in which you can see how much James must have missed his mum, he wanted to be as close to Sophie as possible. Zimbio gallery with great images of today is here.
via Phillip Schofield Twitter feed

As for me, I wanted to send huge, big and warm congratulations to HRH The Countess of Wessex and her team. Not only you have raised an incredible amount of money, but also the awarness for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and what it gives to young people. Also, you have inspired many other people, myself included, to challenge theirselves and change their lives for better. And this is extraordinary. Again, thank you!

4 thoughts on “Day 7 – DofE Sophie’s Challenge! Final day & huge congrats!!

  1. Molly

    The moment when James was SUPER happy to see her return and Sophie kissed his head was so cute. That actually made me a bit emotional. It must be amazing to have children to feel the love you have for them. Anuyway…

    Lovely images of them all coming back and I love that James, future Duke of Edinburgh, gave his mum her pin. He might be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the DoE in 40 years!

    Well done to ALL the team!


  2. Congratulations to the countess and her team! This is an achievement of a lifetime! I am so pleased and proud of the countess and her team for a job well done! As a spectator from very far, my view, which is much like many others who followed the challenge, was via social media and so the kind of excitement one feels does not compare to those on the sideline experiencing the event in real time–an excitement which is perhaps off the charts. Nevertheless, I dare say the excitement I felt was huge. Because, whenever I look at the photos of the team cycling down the mall to the finish, that of the band giving them a royal welcome home and, those of her family and friends, I really do feel quite emotional. It is quite like the emotion felt at a sporting event when your team wins.

    The countess and her team set the bar very high for this challenge and they out did themselves. What an example they set for all of us, especially the youths which to me proves that one can overcome life's challenges, if you set your mind to it, work hard, push through the pain and remain focused. One final observation, I love that the team was made up of members of the military and / or organizations affiliated with the military for support and working with, training and riding with the countess in the challenge. It speaks volumes of the kind of men and women who make up the military–they are all awesome!

    Finally, thanks to Anna for informing us of the challenge initially and keeping us abreast of the challenge from start to finish. The countess' challenge might be over but Anna has one that is ongoing and I will back her with the same excitement and interest as I did the Countess Sophie's 2016 DofE Challenge.




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