Rugby players raise £20k in memory of plane crash victims (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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The 11-strong rugby team from Wanstead cycled 370 miles from France to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk
A team of rugby players have raised over £20,000 in honour of men killed in one of the world's worst ever plane crashes.
The 11-strong cycling team from the Eton Manor Rugby Club in Nutter Lane, Wanstead, cycled over 370 miles to mark the 40th anniversary of the disaster in 1974.
All 346 people on board were killed when the Turkish DC-10 plane came down in Ermenonville in France, including 18 members of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club in Suffolk who had attended a France-England match the previous day.
The Eton Manor players joined 84 other cyclists on the four-day challenge from May 6 to 10 from the French crash site just outside Paris to the Suffolk-based club site.
Participant and Eton Manor coach of 30 years, Mike Fennings, 54, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have risen so much, it was a fantastic team effort and one I am very proud of.
"I am grateful to all of the Eton Manor team who took part, I whole heartedly congratulate them. The ride was very challenging at times but it was a wonderful experience and to raise £20,000 for such a good cause is the icing on the cake.
"Eton Manor has strong links with the Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club and the wider rugby fraternity and this disaster was obviously a very dark day in the Suffolk club’s history; a day that will never be forgotten.
"We feel privileged to have been involved in the memorial event.”
Flight 981 was on route from Ankara to London via Paris when it came down over Ermenonville.
The majority of the passengers on board were British and had been placed on the Turkish airliner after British Airways flights were cancelled because of an engineers strike.
Money raised from the memorial ride will go to the St Nicholas Hospice and the Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club to support youth initiatives.
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