'Big boned bikers' getting in the saddle to raise money for hospice

Some of the Big Boned Bikers team
Some of the Big Boned Bikers team

A group of cyclists are hoping to make a big impression when they get in the saddle to raise money for charity.

The brilliantly-named Big Boned Bikers are doing the 62-mile ride from Manchester to Blackpool in aid of Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) in memory of Billinge woman Louise Unwin.

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Louise died of a brain tumour aged just 53 at the Hindley-based charity last September and the group of pedallers includes her brother-in-law Mark Hamilton.

The cyclists, who take their name from the fact a couple of them were hoping to get fitter and shed a few pounds when they first got on their bikes, have ridden from the city to the seaside before but have previously raised money for The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

Mark, an MOT inspector from Pemberton, said: “We’ve done the bike ride before for Christie’s but last year Louise got cancer of the brain and spent the last month of her life in the hospice.

“After everything the staff did for Louise we decided to raise money to help the hospice.

“When we started doing the bike ride there were a couple of us who were overweight and we said ‘we’re not fat, we’re just big-boned’, so that’s how the name came about.

“The name has stuck even though there’s more of us now and ‘big-boned’ doesn’t apply to everyone.

“We always enjoy doing the bike ride. I’m not built for hills but once we go out of Standish it’s not too bad.

“The weather is always good, we get to go out together as a group of friends and we’ve got family and friends who meet us half-way and at the end so it’s always a nice day.

“We also make sure we not only start together but finish together too.”

The Big Boned Bikers have found their ranks swelling in their three years of fund-raising, with five cyclists doing the first ride in 2017 and eight getting in the saddle this time around.

The group is now made up of Mark, fellow Wigan Council transport division employees Paul Menguy, Simon Costello and Jack O’Hara, their former colleague Andy Haslam, friends Mark Heap and Kevin Bardsley and Paul’s daughter Anneke Menguy.

Louise’s family showered praise on the treatment she received from the staff at the hospice’s Kildare Street headquarters.

Her sister Victoria Hamilton said: “While we cared for her at home for 10 months eventually she had to go to the hospice.

“The love, care, compassion and dedication they gave her was outstanding.

“They couldn’t do enough for her and our family.”

The bike ride takes place on July 7.

Cyclists riding for WLH get refreshments including pies, pasties, sandwiches and chocolate as well as a free T-shirt and transport to Manchester and back from

Blackpool.

Anyone wanting to take part in the bike ride can visit www.wlh.org.uk and sign up for the event.