More than 1,000 people take part in Cycle4Cynthia at Holdenby House
With husbands and wives, mums and daughters, fathers and sons and even three generations pedalling together, it was certainly a family affair at Northamptonshire's thirteenth annual fundraising bike ride, Cycle4Cynthia.
More than 1,100 people took part in the event, held at Holdenby House on Sunday, and they pedalled almost 50,000 miles in total around the local countryside in aid of Cynthia Spencer Hospice.
Among them was the Guest family from Ravensthorpe, including Anna and Bryan, their seven-year-old son Charles and daughter Cecelia, aged five.
Bryan was the first of the 50-milers home, yet unknown to him, he had earlier in the day been beaten to the finishing tape when Charles left his Mum and sister out on the five-mile course to sprint home.
For husband and wife team, Grahame and Liz Mutch, from Moulton, it was rather more the case of ‘those that ride together, stay together’ after successfully negotiating the 25-mile route on a tandem they had bought as a silver wedding anniversary gift for each other - some 15 years earlier.
For Jessica Pilkington from Spratton, the ride was a particularly poignant affair as she, her 14 year old daughter Polly and Mum Patsy, aged 67, were cycling in memory of Jessica’s sister Jasmine, who passed away at the Hospice some three years ago aged just 39.
Mrs Pilkington said: “Jasmine was so lovingly cared for by all the team at Cynthia Spencer that Polly wanted to do something in memory of her aunt and, despite having pedalled no more that a few miles, decided it would be this ride.
“So joining her as three generations seemed a fitting tribute to Jasmine and we’re delighted to have raised £1,000 already with money still coming in.
“Yet even that couldn’t really show our gratitude to those who not only looked after us as a family but also allowed Jasmine to smile in her final days and ultimately give us such lasting, precious memories to treasure.”
Keeping up a longstanding partnership with Northampton Saints, the event was launched by Saints and England captain Dylan Hartley before he himself, in keeping with the family theme of the event, pedalled off with partner Jo alongside.
Mrs Hartley had their one-year-old daughter, Thea, in a basket on the back.
Having just become a father, Dylan missed the 2015 ride but held true to his word to be back and sent the riders on their way with just a helpful word of warning – to avoid the puddles.
Speaking at the end of the ride, which was completed in dry weather, the hospice’s fundraising manager John Helm offered his appreciation to all those who had turned out.
He said: “I cannot say a big enough thank you to all those who gave up their warm, cosy beds to come out and make it such another special year.
“From our team of marshals and volunteers to Dylan and to Holdenby, to those cheering out in the villages and of course to the cyclists themselves, each with their own story as to why they were riding, who could have thought that it could be better than ever, yet it truly was.”
It is hoped that the 2015 fund-raising total of £76,000 will be beaten this year, but riders are being encouraged to collect their sponsorship money as quickly as possible and deliver or send it to Cynthia Spencer Hospice, Manfield Campus, Kettering Road, Northampton NN3 6NP, making cheques payable to ‘Cycle 4 Cynthia’.
To pledge sponsorship or support for next year’s ride, call the hospice on Northampton 678082.
More than £400,000 has been raised over the last 12 years from Cycle4Cynthia. It is hoped that entry fees, sponsorship and sales of the special C4C cycling jersey might take the event’s total fundraising beyond the half a million pound mark in the hospice’s 40th year.
Cynthia Spencer Hospice provides a specialist health service for people whose illness is no longer curable.
The hospice currently serves a population of more than 300,000 people and is a purpose-built 20-bed unit. For more information, log on to www.cynthiaspencer.org.uk