"Coming from 30 years in Travel and Tourism, it was certainly a different environment, but I was immediately struck by the need for the enormous range of support our carers receive."
Julie Holland marketing events engagement lead
What’s 450 miles when it’s at home? A heck of a lot - when you’re on a bike and heading abroad under pedal power.
All cyclists need a push start at some point and some 26 big hearted supporters of Blackpool Carers Centre need a funding push in order to saddle up and help others.
Head over to the charity’s JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/blackpoolcarers for regular updates from the squad of cyclists from all ‘walks’ of life assembling in September to take on what’s rather euphemistically entitled the Tower to Tower ‘Ride’.
Usually such rides start in London but this one starts in Blackpool. From one tourism tour de force, epitomising the spirit of the great British seaside resort, to the most visited ticketed monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower.
Riders are champing at the bit to get to the start, at Blackpool Tower, on September 23, let alone the finish five days later, at the Champ de Mar and Eiffel Tower.
Where else would you find a funeral director (John Byrne), a triathlete (Deborah Terras), a marketing guru (Julie Holland), police officer (Oliver Maughan) and so many more standing shoulder to shoulder in support of a charity which helps 6000 unpaid carers in Blackpool.
For those who love stats and facts, the Eiffel Tower came first, opening in March 1889, two years after the digging started, named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, and has come to symbolise so much more since being built for the World Fair. It stands at 324m high – 1063ft in old francs. If you count the antenna.
Inspired by that achievement, Blackpool Tower opened in May 1894 so celebrates its 125th anniversary. It stands at 158m (518.4ft). If you count the tip of the flag pole.
Of course, height isn’t everything. Carers aged five to 95 (in some cases 105) are supported by Blackpool Carers Centre, 5000 adult carers, 1000 young (from five) and young adult (16 to 25) carers. Each and every one of them walks tall, in the charity’s opinion, even while juggling enough plates to win a spot in the Tower Circus. That’s Blackpool Tower Circus. Eiffel doesn’t have a circus. It doesn’t have a ballroom either. But it does, being French, have a Michelin star restaurant and, last time we looked, a Champagne bar at the summit – so we’re hoping someone runs down from the top with a bottle (or more) for the charity’s triumphant cyclists unlikely to have the energy for the climb.
While we’re bandying figures around, you’d have to cycle past 22,632 Blackpool, trams the sleek five section Bombardiers, to equal that cycle feat. And the route to Paris isn’t flat, unlike Blackpool Promenade.
According to Chapeau Events, the event leaders who ensure cyclists get safely to Paris, and bikes are transported safely back to Blackpool, the five day route takes riders through some “glorious undulating countryside” on route to the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen onto “views of the rolling green hills of northern France.”
Riders don’t have to be Tour de France standard. Novice cyclists, intermediates and regular cyclists will enjoy the challenge (say Chapeau), but they must train.
Chapeau rate it 6 out of 8 in terms of difficulty so class it ‘challenging’. They advise those taking part to include hilly terrain in their training. We take our hat off to Chapeau for sound advice.
By the time cyclists get to Woodstock (not That Woodstock but home to Blenheim Palace) for their second overnight stop they will have 211 miles under their belt (and knees).
Organisers say the body adjusts quickly and cycling with “camaraderie and spirit” helps.
The good news is the mileage drops after that, 97 miles to Portsmouth and overnight ferry to Caen, 83 miles coast to countryside to Evreux in Normandy , and the final 67 mile push through villages so quiet you could hear a hamstring ping to the outskirts of Paris and crescendo of car horns leading up the Champs Elysees to the Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mar.
Here’s a snapshot of most of the riders fundraising (please gift aid donations!).
Blackpool Carers Centre’s marketing, events, engagement lead Julie Holland developed a passion for cycling when she started it five years ago, became a British Cycling Ride Leader and assists with Breeze Poulton (women’s cycling club) to encourage more to take up cycling. “I am lucky enough to work at Blackpool Carers Centre. Coming from 30+ years in Travel and Tourism, it was certainly a different environment, but I was immediately struck by the need for the enormous range of support our carers receive.” Julie leapt at the chance to take on the cycle challenge and raise as much money and awareness for carers as possible. “If I can get one or two people to access our help and spread the word it will make those saddle sores worthwhile. Also hoping my best friend, who is doing it with me, is still my best friend at the end of it.” At the last count (May 13) Julie’s JustGiving profile showed £1754 raised of the £2k target. She hosts a fundraising Beer and Bacon Music Festival in the grounds of the carers’ charity (Beaverbrooks House, Newton Drive, Blackpool) from 11am to 5pm on Sunday May 19. It will showcase musicians from across the Fylde Coast and is backed by Blackpool Music Festival founder Jon Bamborough MBE and local businesses. The event offers the chance, for those buying tickets in advance, to win their own Illuminations switch-on during the Lights. Marketing savvy Julie has also brokered great prizes with very £10 donated, via her JustGiving page, winning one entry into the draw. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joolshollandt2
The dynamic duo of Tony and Deborah Terras are not afraid of challenges. In 2016, both were selected for Pentathlon GB Biathlon Masters and represented GB in European and World championships. Deborah, a director of The Washington Group, gave Tony 49 challenges in the run up to his 50th birthday – this is one. “We have competed together in triathlons, marathons, running, open water swims and walking. This Tower to Tower is an adventure and we can’t wait to do it! We want to raise awareness of Blackpool Carers – everyone at some point of their lives will be a carer or will need caring for - and to encourage others into getting on their bikes and get fit.” The couple host an anniversary charity Beach Party (Friday May 31 at Vicarage Park Community Centre, Poulton) inviting guests to donate on the night to their Tower to Tower challenge, come to their 16th wedding anniversary n their best beach wear, pack a picnic and prepare to party, there’s candy floss, popcorn,, sweet shop cart, ice-cream vendor – and a bar. They are also running a psychic night (June 18) and secured sponsorship of their kit. See https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/deborah-tonyterras They have raised £1095 of their £4k target. We understand more is likely to be added.
Joe Blockey, 24-year-old biomedical science graduate, currently working in medical device sales across the North West, has raised £497 but will rise to the challenge after climbing - Kilimanjaro! “I want to be part of something making a difference to the quality of people’s lives and have a crack at something I’ve never done before. I am grateful to have such a strong network of support myself. Sadly, my nan recently passed away, she was a volunteer for 25 years teaching Braille to members of the blind community. In her earlier years she was also a carer for her mother, who lived in the family home for several years towards the end of her life. We recently found a Liverpool newspaper article from the 80’s that featured my nan and promoted the caring of family members at home, so that’s added a lot more value to participating in the ride for the Blackpool Carers Centre. I’m also hoping to maintain an ongoing relationship with the centre and its fantastic staff after the challenge.” https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joseph-blockley
Funeral director John Byrne, 37, is past the halfway mark – and further coverage in a specialist trade magazine, Insight, for the Society of Independent Funeral Directors, could give him just the funding push needed. At the last count he had raised £1085. Fellow team mate John Thompson is on £840 and is busy prepping his bike and putting the mileage in. John B’s new to cycling, if not to charity support, and is building up his stamina to do 20-50 miles at a time to be cycle fit for the five-day 450-mile challenge in September. It’s also part of John and sister Angela’s 12-month programme of charity events to celebrate JT Byrne Funeral Directors 30 years in business on the Fylde coast. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-byrne-tower2tower and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-thompson-tower2tower
Sharron Mulvaney (pictured above with That cake!) has previously taken on the Great North Run for Blackpool Carers and, at the last count, had raised £1370 via her Tower to Tower JustGiving page. The figure’s likely to raise as fundraising has literally proved a piece of cake. Sharron sold slices of her Tower to Tower themed 50th birthday cake – and generous friends are also helping her buy a new bike as well as assist with fundraising. You could call it the icing on the cake. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sharron-mulvaney
Leanne Haley-Holt –Haley’s comet is on the rise with £653 of the £4k challenge raised to date so is stepping up momentum with her sister and team mate Vicki Murgatroyd. Leanne, 35, says the challenge represents an opportunity “to achieve something outside of what I ordinarily do in life – even if I’m crazy scared inside. I have dragged my sister Vicki along for the ride and am looking forward to sharing this experience with her, she is an incredibly determined person and will get us through. I want to prove to myself I can do anything.” Their very first bike ride together made them realise the gravity of the challenge! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/leanne-haley-holt
Matthew Fife is absolutely smashing it having raised £2539 of his £2750 target. He reports on JustGiving that he’s lost almost 2st training and is doing lots of boxing circuits, early morning session at Brian Rose Boxing and fitness gym, and “out on the bike”. He owns up to being a fair-weather cyclist. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-fife
Howard Blain has raised £1679 of his £2k target. He reveals on JustGiving “When I started out on this epic challenge it scared me because when I start on 23/9/19 I will be 69 and was not confident I could hit my target amount. You have done me proud and I think you from the bottom of my heart.” https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/howard-blain19
Sian Howarth’s Just Giving profile (for Team Sian and Cara) is just six percent off the £2k target thanks to £1855 raised. Cara Smith claims she’s still adjusting to riding without stabilisers. As a team they have raised £2379 of the total £4k needed so push them to that start line! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sian-howarth9 and https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/rodstower2tower
Police officer Oliver Maughan got police cadets in a spin for a 24-hour cyclathon which raised £680, a further £428 from bag packing, and followed through with a sedate afternoon tea on Mother’s Day at the charity’s Beaverbrooks House base. He plans a murder mystery evening in tandem with another rider. At the last count (via JustGiving check) he had raised £1662 of his £2k target. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oliver-maughan3
It’s Kash for carers as Omprakash Velagala bagged a massive £1k single donation from a group of well-wishers, boosting his total to £1392 at the last count (JustGiving). His training includes the Avenham Park Run. Kash admits on his JustGiving page that’s training long and hard and taking a week off work for the challenge as he will be pushing his body “to a point it has never been before, all for this amazing cause.” https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/omprakash-kash-velagala
Jodie Godwin has raised £1120 via JustGiving. She admits she likes to keep fit but questioned her ability to take on this challenge “a whopping 450 miles over five days!” She’s urging family, friends and colleagues to rally to raise much needed funds for Blackpool Carers Centre. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jodie-godwin
Karen (Shiney) Smith is stepping up the mileage and the fundraising pace, £1202 at the last count. Her nickname comes from the making and selling of ‘shiny’ things for her big bike ride. Check out her Facebook page. Some beautiful work – including bicycle jewellery! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-smith183
Claire Edwards enjoys cycling and rose to the challenge of helping a charity which offers support to “carers old and very young and to families who encounter difficulties and challenges that seem overwhelming – which was how I felt when I signed up to do the ride. Every penny counts.” Claire’s JustGiving update reports she is training in earnest and doing some toy stalls to raise more money for a great cause. She’s raised £1305 of her £2k target. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-edwards51
Judie Simmons-Jeffs and Tom Swire have joined forces to take on the challenge and are at £1087, so past the quarter milestone for their joint £4k. They are putting in the mileage at weekends on their new bikes. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/parisianpeddlers
Barry Edwards is nudging the halfway mark at £1020 (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/barry-edwards17), Janice Catterall is on £600 (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/janice-catterall), Maria Newton £906 (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/maria-newton17).
If we've missed anyone along the way - there's always the edit button. Or the bus! We wouldn't want to put a spoke in the wheel of their prospects. And it is still only May, remember!