Rallying call to saddle up for hospice bike ride
Wiganers are being urged to get on their bikes for a good cause as a leading local charity's popular annual cycle ride to the seaside returns.
Registration is now open for the Manchester to Blackpool ride organised in aid of Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH).
Hundreds of cyclists are once again expected to get in the saddle and take on the 63-mile course from the city out to the famous promenade, passing through the borough on the way.
The ride is one of the biggest events in the Hindley-based charity’s annual fund-raising calendar raising thousands of pounds every year and the hospice’s senior staff are encouraging residents to get active and help out once more.
WLH chief executive Dr Alan Baron said: “The bike ride is one of our biggest fund-raising events of the year and our riders always tell us it’s a fantastic day. From the start in Manchester there’s a real buzz of excitement in the air and we make sure our riders are really well looked after along the route on the way to Blackpool.
“Cyclists can sign up now for what promises to be another great bike ride and help us to continue providing care for local people with life-limiting illnesses.”
Potential riders needing a little more encouragement to sign up for this summer’s ride are being given further words of encouragement by a stalwart volunteer and cancer patient.
Dave Kinsey, from Winstanley, usually follows the huge group of cyclists as the Last Rider, ensuring anyone who gets into difficulties is OK and ensuring everyone gets to the finish line in time to board the transport home to Wigan.
The 62-year-old will return to the saddle this year after having to miss the 2016 event due to treatments he was receiving for advanced prostate cancer.
Dave became a volunteer helper in 2010 after raising more than £1,600 over the nine years he was in the main field and is looking forward to taking part again this year.
He said: “I rode the event for the hospice year after year. My technique was to ask work colleagues and friends to either join me or sponsor me so a lot of people said they would sponsor me and let me do the hard work!
“When I meet people out cycling in my spare time I tell them about the bike ride. The hospice needs to raise a huge amount of money and a lot of it has to come from donations.
“When I’ve been into the hospice I’ve seen it’s a lovely place. You shouldn’t think that you only go into the hospice if it’s the end of your life. The staff make it a really pleasant place and they are the friendliest and most helpful people you could wish to meet.”
Dave has become a familiar face to riders as he also gives the safety speech on the buses, helps to load the bikes onto the trucks, labels them the day before the event and unloads them back in Wigan.
He received his cancer diagnosis in February 2016 and quickly started a medical trial involving hormone therapy and chemotherapy to prevent further spread of the disease. Although currently undergoing hormone treatment whose side effects include fatigue he began cycling again just before Christmas and is riding up to 24 miles each Sunday.
He said: “The bike ride is the highlight of my year. There’s a real feel-good atmosphere.
“When I’m volunteering I encourage people as best I can to keep going. The cheering crowds welcoming riders at the finish make it all worthwhile. If they’ve had a good experience then they’ll give it another go and bring friends the next year and we’ll raise even more money for the hospice. I was told I must look on my stage of cancer as incurable but I look on it as they just haven’t found a total cure for now and keep myself active. As soon as I’m fit again I will definitely be doing the ride again.”
Register for the ride by calling 01942 525566, emaiing [email protected] or visiting www.wlh.org.uk