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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Tragedies lie behind Cumbrians' coast bike challenge

A group of determined cyclists are hopping on their bikes to tackle a mass charity challenge.

Jennifer Jennings photo
Jennifer Jennings died in 2012

The 30 cyclists are taking on one of the country’s most popular routes, the 140-mile coast-to-coast, this weekend in aid of the Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland.

The annual event, which started in 2011, is the hospice’s biggest single fundraiser of the year with months of preparation going into organising it.

More than 130 people have taken part in the event raising over £150,000 to help provide care in the community at the end of people’s lives.

Even the charity’s fundraiser Julie Blundell is taking part this year for the first time.

She said: “It has been a source of fundraising for us which has provided countless hours of nursing care for the community, so we urge everybody to support the cyclists.”

Many of the participants have very personal reasons driving them to complete the challenge. Among them is 48-year-old Alison Short, from the Warwick Road area of Carlisle, who’ll be riding with her sister Ruth Reay.

Alison completed the route three years ago on her own. “The first time I did it my sister said she would do it with me but she became unwell. So we said we would do it again when she was well, and here we are,” said Alison.

“The reason I’m involved with the hospice is they made it so much more tolerable when my sons’ father died. They allowed him to stay at home so my sons could visit. In a child’s eye he wasn’t ill, he was just at home. I put that down to the support we received from the hospice, they are a marvellous organisation,” she added.

Limbering up for the first time is 34-year-old Stewart Waugh, from Cliburn, near Penrith.

He’s taking on the challenge with five of his workmates from Waitings Drainage – one of the event sponsors.

Stewart signed up for the event to give something back to the organisation which helped care for his sister Jennifer Jennings, who lost her battle with cancer in June 2012.

“I wanted to help them out because what they did for my sister was amazing,” he said. “She was able to stay at home and they gave her 24-hour care. My family couldn’t believe it.”

It is the first time that Stewart and his friends have taken on a challenge of this magnitude, but they have spent the last few months training to make sure they are ready.

“A lot of people think it is just for older people but it is not, they care for everybody. We want to raise as much money as we can,” he said.

To donate go to www.hospiceathome.co.uk or call 01768 210 719.

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