Long Way Down cyclists hit the right note

The Long Way Down cyclists pedalling their way from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for FORCE are into Week Two of their epic challenge.
Today the quartet from the Axe Valley – builder Dougie Board, drainage engineer David Selley, plumber Ian “Pipes” Woodhall and electrician Matt Cracker – cycled from Northwich in Cheshire to Bridgnorth in Shropshire.
They set out from Scotland on May 29 and are due at the most Westerly tip of mainland Cornwall on Sunday (June 12) with a welcome home party at The Kingfisher in Colyton later that day.
They have already raised more than £4,600.
They’ve got a few events to celebrate their ride through the Westcountry later this week, including singing in Bude on Thursday and at the Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge on Friday.
Their amazing efforts have been hitting the headlines ever since they announced their big ride. Here’s how the Devon and Cornwall Post has reported their fundraising feats.

Bencoolen Wreckers to welcome ‘Long Way Down’ cyclists as they raise money for FORCE Cancer Charity

A BIG fundraising evening is being planned by Bude shanty singers to welcome a team of Devon cyclists on their way to Lands End — who are raising money for a charity that has supported one of the singer’s daughters, writes Amy Dennis.

A charity sing will see the Bencoolen Wreckers welcome the ‘Long Way Down’ team of cyclists to the Bencoolen Inn on Thursday, June 9.

The event, taking place from 7.30pm will see singing from the Bencoolen Wreckers and include a raffle — prizes so far including donations from Eden Project, The DECK and Budehaven Community Leisure.

The fundraising event is in aid of FORCE Cancer Charity, which has a centre at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and supports people with cancer.

Sophie Martin, daughter of Bencoolen Wrecker singer Nigel Martin, who lives in Holsworthy, received support from FORCE Cancer Charity after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year.

The team of four amateur cyclists taking on the John O’Groats to Lands End (JOGLE) challenge are all self-employed tradesmen from the Axe Valley in East Devon. The Bencoolen Wreckers met two of the cyclists — Matt Craker and Dave Selley, who sing with the ‘Chantry Kingers’, when The Wreckers joined up with ‘Friggin Riggin’ to sing at Widecombe Fair.

Robin Bale, of the Bencoolen Wreckers, explained: “We made a great friendship, some of them even travelled to join us on the Isles of Scilly on our annual excursion.

“On November 15, 2015 the Wreckers travelled to the Kingfisher Inn, Colyton, whose landlord Mark (one of the singers) made us most welcome. After this we received information that two of their singers were going to take part in a John O’Groats to Lands End cycle,” — this cycle is in aid of FORCE Cancer Charity.

Mr Bale said after reading the cyclists’ route — which is passing through Bude —‘it was only right that we should put on a night for them’.

It was within this time that the Wreckers heard Mr Martin’s terrible news — that his daughter Sophie had a rare cancer and was going to Exeter for treatment. It was there she was helped by FORCE Cancer Charity.

Sophie, who in recent weeks has been given the all-clear, told the Post: “At the end of January I was admitted as an emergency to North Devon District Hospital with a suspected ovarian cyst. After further investigation I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer — a germ cell tumour of the ovary. Only 60 women are diagnosed with this in the UK each year. I had an operation at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to remove the tumour.

“I then made a trip to Charing Cross Hospital in London to see a specialist. He explained that I would need to undergo nine weeks of intensive BEP chemotherapy in Exeter Hospital. Each cycle of BEP consisted of a five day stay in hospital during week one followed by a one day visit in week two and three. I completed three of these cycles.

“During my time at Exeter Hospital I was supported by the FORCE team. They offered a calm and relaxing place to go to with family whilst waiting for appointments. They helped me to find head gear and to choose and fit my wig.

“They offered complementary therapies, which took place on the ward if I was not well enough to get to the FORCE centre. Every day the FORCE team made a visit to the wards to offer patients snacks and drinks at no cost.

“I can’t thank the team enough for making me and my family more comfortable during my treatment. It made a huge difference. I am passionate about giving something back to FORCE so that they can continue to support those affected by cancer in the local area.

“The work they do is amazing and they are just welcoming to everybody and their families.”

Coincidentally the charity the cyclists had already decided to fundraise for FORCE after their friend and neighbour Nigel Broom was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. They also dedicate their ride to Mike Raynor and their old friend Basil Dean, who has since sadly passed away after a hard fought battle with cancer.

For more information about Sophie’s story and for further details of the fundraising night at Bencoolen Inn on June 9, visit https://sophiemartin88blog.wordpress.com/ or to donate to Sophie’s fundraising for FORCE Cancer Charity visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/sophiemartin88

To donate to the Long Way Down cycle team, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/longwaydown3

Just turn up on the night to the fundraising evening at the Bencoolen Inn on June 9, from 7.30pm.

Many thanks to our friends at the Devon and Cornwall Post for allowing us to reproduce this fantastic article. Read more here