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Cyclists pedalling to Paris in hospice charity challenge

The cyclists at the hospice before setting off for London
The cyclists at the hospice before setting off for London

A group of cyclists have got on their bikes for a gruelling ride between two capital cities to raise money for a major borough charity

The 13-strong pack of riders are making their way from London to Paris to raise money for Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH).

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The intrepid group set off on Wednesday morning on the 300-mile ride to the City of Light.

It is the first time the Hindley-based charity has organised an international effort to swell its coffers in order to help Wiganers with life-limiting illnesses, both at its own premises and in patients’ own homes across the borough.

And the riders spoke of their delight at being involved in such a landmark venture before setting off.

Paul Harper, a director of Hindley Green-based IT support firm ABtec, is one of those taking part.

He said: “I won a bike as part of an award for a European security project and this motivated me to get back in to cycling.

“I got talking to the hospice chief executive, Dr Alan Baron, who told me about the challenge so I thought it would be good to put the bike to good use and raise some much-needed funds for the hospice.”

Also pedalling towards Paris is Hawkley Hall resident Stuart Shelmerdine, who is riding in memory of his brother-in-law Victor Leonard.

Stuart’s charity efforts are a way of giving something back to WLH after they cared for Victor before his death from pancreatic cancer in January 2017, aged just 60.

Having previously done several charity events on two wheels, including a fund-raising ride of 101 miles, he was keen to push himself even further with the 300-mile odyssey going onto the continent.

The ride takes the cyclists past a number of historical sites of interest and landmarks, including some of the World War One battlefields on the route through northern France towards Paris.

They also get to enjoy some of the stunning southern English countryside after working their way out of the capital city.

Maxine Armstrong, fund-raising and lottery manager for the hospice, said: “It will be an unforgettable experience for all of our riders – particularly as this year marks 100 years since the end of World War One and they will be cycling past battlefields on their journey.

“Cycling from London to Paris is a huge challenge but our cyclists have been dedicated to their training and their fundraising. A warm and well-deserved welcome awaits them in Paris.”

The group posed for photographs at WLH’s Kildare Street headquarters on Tuesday morning before a coach was laid on to take them to the start line in the capital.

The group returns to Wigan following its adventure on Sunday.