Founder of Northamptonshire charity Thomas’s Fund gets set for epic cycling challenge

‘It’s super exciting and it all feels very real now’

Friday, 10th June 2022, 2:00 pm

A charity founder will finally set off on the gruelling tandem cycle challenge she has had to postpone for more than two years – all thanks to a last minute ‘cycling buddy’.

Lucy Smith, from Boughton near Northampton, has faced more challenges than most people have in a lifetime, but caring for two severely disabled sons who died aged 10 and 12 has spurred her on to even greater heights.

For more than 15 years she has helped run Thomas’s Fund - a small charity named after her eldest son which provides music therapy for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses or life-threatening conditions in Northamptonshire.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lucy and Mike on tandem ride ahead of their charity challenge for Thomas's Fund

On Sunday, June 12 she will climb aboard a tandem and cycle 1,027 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise funds. But Lucy, aged 51, had to overcome even more challenges just to get this point.

She and husband Tim, a retired police officer also 51, planned the ride and events associated with it back in 2020.

Covid stopped it then, and again in 2021, and it all seemed set to go ahead in this summer until Tim found he needed two emergency back operations and spent more than three weeks in hospital.

Undeterred, the Smiths asked cycling buddy Mike Ives, a 58-year-old software engineer from Kibworth, Leicestershire, to step in as the tandem’s ‘pilot’ with Lucy on the rear seat as ‘stoker’.

“We did a couple of hilly test rides over 100 km,” said Mike. “And I’m delighted to confirm we start the ride this coming weekend. It’s super exciting and it all feels very real now. It’s going to be a great adventure and for such a good cause.”

Tim is still planning to be part of the challenge. Driving a back-up car carrying his solo bike, he plans to travel each morning to their accommodation and then ride the last few miles of the route in reverse to meet the intrepid duo on the road.

Thomas Smith died in 2004 aged 10 from a degenerative neurological condition. His brother Harry suffered from the same condition and passed away in 2010 aged 12. While both boys required full time care they were bright, cheeky and engaging.

“We led a very full life together and the boys took great joy from music and music therapy,” explained mother and Thomas’s Fund’s co-founder Lucy.

“Unfortunately, music therapy wasn’t available outside of school hours and Jan Hall, his music therapist at Fairfields School in Northampton founded the charity to provide music therapy at home for children like Tom and Harry. She asked if it could be called Thomas’s Fund and if I could help her to run it.”

The fund now employs four professional music therapists and the charity is almost entirely run by volunteers.

Tim Smith added: “This year has been a real shock. The back operations mean I’m in no physical shape to take on such an immense challenge and I’m so grateful to Mike for stepping in.”

Thomas’s Fund has raised £866,138 in its 15 years and Earl Spencer is its leading patron.

To sponsor the riders and donate to Thomas’s Fund, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tim-smith94