It was always going to take a lot more than persistent rain to dampen the spirits of the those turning out in force to support Northamptonshire’s favourite fundraising bike ride, Cycle4Cynthia.
So it was that, despite the dreary, autumnal conditions which greeted those arriving for the annual event held in aid of Northampton’s Cynthia Spencer Hospice at Althorp on Sunday, hundreds of cyclists braved the dismal weather to take to two wheels, demonstrating that it’s worth getting a bit wet for such a worthy cause!
Indeed Saints and England rugby player Harry Mallinder, who fired the starting hooter to send the pedallers on their way, first thanked those who had ignored the downpours to be part of this remarkable show of defiance.
“I visited the hospice last week and after meeting the staff and volunteers, was really humbled by the care and compassion they show to patients and their families, and seeing all of you here today just goes to show what Cynthia Spencer clearly means to you too,” explained Harry.
“On behalf of all those at the charity for whom your support means their vital work can continue, thank you so much for coming, especially as staying at home in the warm and dry might have seemed the sensible option!” he grinned.
One of those who might have been tempted by the latter was Maggie Woodhouse, from Flore, who is, by day, a skiver – a shoe skiver at Church’s factory that is! But having raised £160 in sponsorship from her friends and colleagues, nothing was going to prevent her jumping into the saddle and she completed the 5 mile route – twice!
Also demonstrating their commitment to the cause were friends Lynsey Brecani and Karen Eke who donned a colourful combination of ponchos and sunglasses to show they weren’t going to be beaten by the wet stuff: “We’ve both lost friends and family at Cynthia Spencer and can’t speak highly enough for their incredible end of life care, so a little bit of rain was never going to stop us being here today!” explained Lynsey.
“We’re just so thrilled that hundreds of others obviously felt the same way and have shown the kind of spirit that this event brings out in people!” added Karen
In fact, the sunglasses proved to be rather prophetic for it wasn’t too long before the clouds parted and the sun shone on those returning from the 25 and 50 mile routes, among them the family and friends of 19-year-old Harry Chadwick, who passed away earlier this year after battling cancer.
Having collected her finisher’s medal, Harry’s Mum, Jessica, revealed why they had ignored the grey skies and dug out their bikes, sporting t-shirts which bore her son’s photo: “Our beautiful Harry lived and loved life and it was thanks to the support of the Hospice at Home team that he was able to stay at home, surrounded by those who loved him” explained Jessica.
“Today has been incredibly emotional but I’m so very proud of the entire team and of the fact that we’ve raised over two thousand pounds for the charity which means that those who need the care and love that we received get it when they most need it” she added.
Speaking at the end of the ride, the Hospice’s fundraising manager John Helm offered his appreciation to all those who’d been involved: “We came very close to cancelling the event because of the winds that were threatened but someone must have been smiling on us to enable it to go ahead and, despite inevitably losing a few riders, it’s been fantastic to witness the kindness and generosity of all of those who’ve turned out in support of the charity” said John.
“So yet again, to the marshals and volunteers, to our pitstop teams en route, our sponsors - including our generous headline sponsor EMW Law LLP and the team from Chelton Brown who both funded and handed out the medals - and of course to the cyclists themselves, we owe a massive debt of gratitude and let’s hope that, rather than the rain, their abiding memory of the day will be the smiles and warmth of spirit that make Cycle4Cynthia the glorious day it always is!” he enthused.
It will be some time before it is known if the 2017 total of £76,000 has been bettered but for now, riders are kindly encouraged to collect their sponsorship money and drop it in at Cynthia Spencer Hospice’s Manfield Campus on Northampton’s Kettering Road or post a cheque made payable to ‘Cycle4Cynthia’ to Cynthia Spencer Hospice, Pondwood House, Pondwood Close, Northampton NN3 6RT.
Meanwhile, to pledge your sponsorship or involvement in next year’s ride, please contact the Hospice on 01604 210941.