51 brave supporters of St Elizabeth Hospice have saddled up to cycle 300 miles from London to Paris – and they’ve already raised more than £70,000 for the local charity.
The group set off on their challenge yesterday (Tuesday 15 September) from the hospice on Foxhall Road, Ipswich, where they were taken by coach to London, ready to start the cycle ride from Crystal Palace first thing this morning (Wednesday 16 September).
The team were waved off by their friends and families, as well as hospice staff, volunteers and patients, and given words of encouragement from the hospice’s acting chief executive, Mark Millar.
Mr Millar said: “We had our first cyclists sign up for the Hospice Team 100 nearly a year ago, so we’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. To see 51 of our dedicated supporters, who have all gelled so well as a team, unite for this gruelling challenge to raise funds for the hospice is fantastic.
“Collaboratively, they’ve already raised in excess of £60,000 and that’s before they’ve started pedalling to Paris! We’re all very grateful for the dedication and effort they’ve put in to their fundraising, and all the money raised will go towards providing vital care and support to more people living with a progressive illness in East Suffolk.”
The challenge will see the Hospice Team 100 spend four days covering 300 miles across two countries, on a route that will take them to Dover through rural Kent. Once in Calais, the cyclists will ride the winding roads to Abbeville, then on to Beauvais the following day from where the final big push on to Paris begins!
Each cyclist has aimed to raise a minimum of £1,850 which is enough to fund a hospice nurse for two months, with many taking on the challenge in memory of loved ones who were cared for by St Elizabeth Hospice.
Here’s a bit about just a few of our Hospice Team 100 members and why they’re taking part
John Davey, 61, is cycling in memory of his wife, Jo, known as Bobbie, was cared for by St Elizabeth Hospice after she was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer. She spent her last days at the Hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, in 2005 where she died aged 36.
Mr Davey said: “Bobbie found great comfort and solace during her stays on the inpatient unit at the hospice and the serenity and comfort of the hospice enabled her to maintain her incredible sense of humour to the very end which I was so proud of.
“I knew that 2015 was the 10th anniversary of losing Bobbie but it was only after the hospice Team 100 registration night that I realised that the actual anniversary, September 18, would fall on the day which we will be on our bikes, cycling down to Beauvais.
“Until this point, I had doubted that I could complete 300 miles in four days but I knew then that I must make it, not only to raise the funds so vital to the hospice, who I remain eternally grateful to, but also to commemorate such an amazing personality and such big heart.”
Two of the team are life-long friends Tom Barnes, 21, and Ben Swan, 23, who have challenged themselves to complete the 300 mile cycle ride in memory of their football manager for local club, Brantham Athletic, who was cared for at St Elizabeth Hospice.
Paul Giles was looked after in the inpatient unit in January this year and was visited regularly by friends and family, including Tom and Ben.
British Telecom employee, Tom and Council worker, Ben, are no strangers to cycling challenges; even though the London to Paris Hospice Team100 will be their longest yet.
Ben said: “We visited him lots and were so impressed with what St Elizabeth Hospice has to offer.”
Tom added: “We both like cycling and wanted to do something ‘mad’ in memory of Paul as well as to raise awareness of the hospice and all it does for local people, so we signed up for the Hospice Team 100. It will be good for him to be remembered in this way.”
Corinne Beaumont is the oldest member of the 2015 Hospice 100 cycle team.
Having reached the milestone of her 60th birthday in July, she sees her recent birthday as just another reason to do the challenge.
For Corinne, this challenge takes her way out of her comfort zone, but it’s a place she is prepared to go as she is doing this in memory of her husband, Francis ‘Bob’ Beaumont, who was cared for on the inpatient unit at St Elizabeth Hospice last year.
She says: “It is a fitting thing to do for him as the more we can do for the hospice, the better. The kindness of the staff and volunteers made a difficult time so much easier.”
Bob became a patient at St Elizabeth Hospice firstly in day care, where he particularly enjoyed his lunches and the interaction with other patients. She remembered: “He was always so full of it and would talk very animatedly about his day when he got home.
“Bob had prostate cancer and we found the end to be quite sudden. He spent a week in the inpatient unit which was wonderful as we knew he was in safe hands. There was always someone on hand when we needed them and we were left on our own when we wanted.”
Richard Ward is another supporter who will be setting off for Paris.
He is riding in memory of his daughter, Cathy, who was cared for by St Elizabeth Hospice four years ago. He said: “The hospice at home team looked after her and were brilliant.”
Richard is no stranger to fundraising in memory of Cathy; having set up a St Elizabeth’s Tribute Fund, he then took part in the Silverstone Half-Marathon in 2012; the three peaks challenge in 2014 and the Midnight Walk in 2015, all raising money in Cathy’s memory.
He added: “I am not expecting to race to Paris but I will get there somehow and sometime.”
Adrian Rawlinson, editor of Essential Suffolk magazine, first signed up for the Hospice Team 100 primarily to get fit and in doing so, raise much needed funds for a very worthwhile cause.
However, he now finds himself with new, more serious, personal motivation as his older sister, Catherine, 53, who lives in Devon, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
For Adrian and his family, it has brought into even sharper focus how necessary facilities, like those provided by St Elizabeth Hospice, are to its community.
Adrian said: “Some people are doing the Hospice 100 because the hospice has had a direct influence on their lives, others because the challenge is on their ‘bucket list’ of things to do and some because they want to get fit and in doing so raise money for a fantastic cause.
“I truly hope that in the hilly lanes of Devon similarly Lycra clad over weight middle aged men will be pedalling out the miles supporting the facilities on my sister’s doorstep.
“When, as concerned bystanders, we can do little to truly influence the outcome of life and death fights such as that which Catherine faces, this is something we can do. I know our ride, however insignificant in the grand scheme of things, will make a difference to so many.”