Kris ‘Blue’ Skimmings from Ravenshoe Tablelands in Far North Queensland (FNQ) is an Ex-Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain (CPONPC) who completed 20 years service in the RAN in 1991.
At the ripe old age of 58, Blue has now decided to cycle a distance of 2643 kilometres, from Ravenshoe to Darwin, in memory of the 40 ADF personnel who have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan. Symbolically, he plans to complete the feat over 40 days.
He is also riding to raise much needed funds for the ‘Avenue of Honour’ located in Yarrabah, Atherton Tablelands. The Avenue is a memorial to commemorate all Australian soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, in Afghanistan, as part of the fight against terror.
The driving force and brain child behind the Avenue of Honour is Gordon and Susan Chuck, the parents of PTE Benjamin Chuck who died when a US Black Hawk helicopter crashed while leaving Kandahar Province in 2010.
The project has had the full support of the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, and when the Avenue Of Honour was officially launched on Saturday 22 June 2013, CDF was joined at the event by the then Prime Minister, The Honourable Julia Gillard and the Opposition Leader, The Honourable Tony Abbott.
Blue is endeavouring to cover 105 kilometres each day, for two days, then resting on the third day; repeating this sequence 13 times before finally riding into Darwin on the 40th day - Wednesday 10 September 2013. He is extremely passionate about the cause.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Cairns, Commander Anthony Powell, and his ship’s company have given their full support to Blue’s ride by donating money, hosting promotional opportunities, morning teas and by acquiring an ADF cycling outfit for him to ride in.
Blue will take a plaque, and a letter from the Tablelands Regional Council Mayor, Rosa Lee Long, to present to the Mayor of Darwin, Katrina Fong Lim, at the Cenotaph on the Darwin Esplanade when he arrives in the top end capital.
Blue is asking members of the Navy family to dig deep and help him raise more money for the ongoing maintenance of the Avenue of Honour, as well as to donate to the Mates for Mates charity, and Soldier On – a charity helping military personnel who return from conflict physically or emotionally damaged.
The Navy veteran has given, and is continuing to give a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this ride and he is happy to do so.
“All I ask in return is for all military personnel to think of their mates and do the ‘mate’ thing by donating to this worthwhile cause,” he said.
Blue set off on his great ‘Rider with a Cause’ adventure on the morning of Wednesday, 31 July. To follow his efforts and find out how to donate, head to his Facebook Group ‘Blue's ride for the Avenue of Honour’.