A group of five friends from Essex cycled over 300 miles in just 24 hours and raised over £10,000 for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
The riders, who have been friends since they met in primary school over 50 years ago, faced challenges before they even set off for their mammoth ride, but nothing was going to stop them.
The original plan had been to cycle 400 miles from Berwick upon Tweed near the border of England and Scotland to their hometown of Hatfield Peverel in Essex but this was changed at the last minute.
Russell Ashby, who was part of the backup team, said:
“We got stuck in a four-hour traffic jam on the way to our start point which meant it would be impossible to finish the cycle in the planned time. We, therefore, set off from the Angel of the North in Gateshead instead.
“We also started a rider down, one of the team had a recurring knee injury and was advised not to ride so he became part of the support team instead.
“We set off at 6pm on the Friday evening and I’m pleased to say that once en route, there were no injuries or major dramas! We were blessed with excellent weather all the way and all five of the riders completed all stages of the course.
“The riders were absolutely magnificent and showed true determination. It was a privilege to be part of the team and has left me with fond memories that I shall hold dear for the rest of my life.”
Having covered 302.18 miles and been in their saddles cycling for 19 hours and 16 minutes, the group arrived back at the Swan Inn Public House in Hatfield Peverel.
“The cyclists were very tired but absolutely exhilarated and on a high when we finished. I don’t think they could quite believe what they had achieved.
“The welcome back we received from all our supporters was incredible, they even stopped the traffic along the street so that we could form an orderly procession home.
“There was a barbeque and music; we all stayed for a while but went home relatively early. After the adrenaline high began to fade, slight fatigue started to set in!”
This fundraiser was a culmination of a 25-year cycling career for these friends who have raised just over £50,000 for various charities.
Paul Nicholas, who is 58, is the driving force behind the challenge and the main organiser.
“My grandad served in the First World War and as a family, we would always watch the Remembrance Day parade. I used to find it quite moving to see the veterans representing Blind Veterans UK, which was St Dunstan’s at the time, and for that reason, I chose to support the charity with this fundraiser.
“We are all extremely proud of what we have achieved and the memory will last forever but most importantly we raised over £10,000 for Blind Veterans UK.”
If you are part of a group that would like to find out how your special interest or hobby could be used to raise money for Blind Veterans UK please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/support.