Forging ahead for hospice care
- Credit: Rennie Grove
A 32-strong team of cyclists have completed a four-day, 556km loop from St Albans to the Isle of Wight and back, raising funds for local hospice care.
TeamFORGE set off from St Michael’s Manor in St Albans on Thursday, pedalled more than 100 miles on day one, circumnavigated the Isle of Wight on Friday, reached Swindon on Saturday, and completed the final 82-mile leg on Sunday afternoon, raising more than £144,000 for Rennie Grove Hospice Care.
Event organiser David Fryer said: “TeamFORGE - or Friends of Rennie Grove Enthusiasts – was created in 2014. A small group, all keen cyclists and some with very personal connections to the charity, planned to raise £30,000 to mark Rennie Grove’s 30th anniversary in 2015.
“It’s unusual to see almost 50 people come together and work selflessly and without asking or expecting anything in return, but the cyclists and our brilliant support teams did just that.
“The team spirit may have been harder to measure - but it was very easy to see, especially among the support team, who reacted positively to every obstacle thrown in their way to ensure the cyclists were fed and watered and their bikes fixed so they could complete the challenge.”
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Harpenden resident and former Paralympian David Clarke, who celebrated his 51st birthday during the event, agreed: “The riders, the organisers, the support team – just a fantastic bunch of people who made it an awesome event.”
David, who is blind, completed the challenge on the back of a tandem, piloted by Steve Holford, his usual ‘co-pilot’, for the first two days – then with fellow cyclists Andrew Mendoza and Paul Rosenthal out front, both relatively new to the role.
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“They were brilliant,” says David. “It takes a lot of extra effort and communication but they were 100% committed. The other riders were great too, taking turns to go ahead and check crossings, making sure we could cross safely without losing too much momentum.
“And the cause is so important. Any one of us could need it, and most of us know someone who has used it.”
St Albans resident Bevan Clark cycled in memory of his best friend Steve: “Two years ago, I lost my closest friend, Steve, to cancer. From his diagnosis till the very end, he was cared for and supported by Rennie Grove.
"The specialist care he received at home in his final days was so incredibly important to Steve and his family - it meant they could all be together in their family home during this extremely difficult time.”
Brian Robson, 73, also from St Albans said: “I love cycling and to raise funds for a service that supports local people when they really, really need it – it moves you at times.
"I probably knew around 10 of the team from previous cycle rides, but everyone was so friendly and supportive. It’s this sort of thing that brings back your belief in humanity – lots of ordinary people doing little acts of kindness.”
Brian started cycling when he retired. He joined TeamFORGE on their first Isle of Wight challenge six years ago and has continued to cycle regularly with team member Lawrence Levy ever since. To celebrate his 70th birthday he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
TeamFORGE 2015 planned the route and arranged all the logistics themselves, fundraising hard and training even harder. They smashed their target, raising enough to fund two hospice at home nurses for 12 months – an incredible fundraising feat to match their immense personal achievement.
With twice as many cyclists in their slipstream this year, the original TeamFORGE are thrilled that their 2021 Isle of Wight challenge is even bigger and bolder than their inaugural event six years ago.
TeamFORGE thanks its corporate sponsors - including Bryan and Mercer, Kane Group and Origin Doors and Windows -, everyone who has generously donated to their challenge, their nine-strong volunteer support team who’ve accompanied them all the way, and presenter DJ Spoony who joined them on Saturday’s 77-mile leg from Southampton to Swindon.
Sponsor TeamFORGE at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/TeamFORGECC2021 and help them reach their £150,000 target.