An intrepid group of cyclists got together to cycle from London to Paris to raise vital funds for St John’s Hospice.
Over four days the group cycled through howling winds and driving rain to raise nearly £15,000 for St John’s – all driven by personal reasons to support their local hospice.
On the day of departure some of the team, including Malcolm Turner – whose daughter Charlotte Baxendale is a Sister for the Hospice at Home team – went to the hospice ward to meet a patient who wanted to wave them off, and on their return they went back to see him to share some photographs of their incredible trip.
Their journey started in the spring when individuals signed up for the inaugural London to Paris challenge and they quickly became part of a group that trained together and became firm friends.
The first day saw the group cycle through London to Dover, where they got a little rest on the ferry over to Calais after a very wet and windy 95 miles!
Day two was spent on French soil cycling 85 miles from Calais to Abbeville in brutal headwind and heavy rain all the way to the hotel.
Day three was another 98 miles of cycling, knowing that this was their last push before the final day!
After four hard days of cycling in testing weather the time had finally come, the moment they had all been focusing on, the finish that they had been imagining for the last few months: the Eiffel Tower was in sight.
They had made it, tired and sore but very elated!
One of the cyclists, Stephen Kane from Lancaster, said: “When I went to St John’s it was a real eye-opener; all my fears went out of the window when I saw how comfortable it was and heard about all the different patient services on offer.
“My dad liked it there, especially the gardens, so I often took him into the gardens in his wheelchair.
“You don’t know what St John’s does until you need it, it’s a vital part of our local community and I can’t thank the staff and volunteers enough.
“If you are thinking about whether you can do it or not – you can. I started cycling just 20-30 minutes three of four times a week and then built up to longer sessions with Lisa from St John’s and a few of the other cyclists who had signed up to the challenge.
“The whole experience was so exciting; it did hurt from time to time but the atmosphere carried us through.
“You get buoyed up my people’s generosity – I had hoped to raise £1,800 so when my final target was nearly £3,000 I was over the moon!”
Fellow cyclist Gav Brownrigg, from Wigton in Cumbria, said: “My dad spent three weeks at St John’s and the whole family were happy for him to be there.
“They gave him the pain relief and relaxation that he needed and we had peace of mind knowing that he had round-the-clock care from people who really understood his symptoms.
“Doing this cycle ride was my way of giving back so that other families can have the care he had.
“I started training in July because I wasn’t that fit; I work shifts so my training was often at 2am on a turbo trainer that I hooked up in the front room!
“I was really excited and nervous when I set off and then elated when I was cycling through France – even though it was rough at times and I’m a bit sore, it was worth every minute of it!”
Lisa Morgan, community fundraiser for St John’s, said: “This was our very first London to Paris cycle. Many people have undertaken their own cycle rides to raise money so we had many requests for St John’s to organise a cycle expedition!
“Because this has been such a success we are running another cycling event next year. Whether you have recently started cycling, haven’t been on a bike for years or are already a strong cyclist and are looking for a new challenge in 2020 this could be the one for you!
“Keep an eye on our website and social media for more news coming soon or call Lisa Morgan on 01524 382538.”