01 Aug Twelve heroic cyclists ride 300 miles from London to Paris in searing heat to raise more than £20,000 for Mercy Ships
The cyclists, many of whom had never taken on a challenge like this before, battled scorching temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius as they cycled through the French countryside. They began their epic journey in Crystal Palace on Wednesday 25 July and finished at the Eiffel Tower on Saturday 28 July, just before the finale of the Tour de France.
The 12 riders who tackled this challenge were: David Seager, Denis Oppong-Gyapong, Gill van Hasselt, Hilary Everett, Julian Hancock, Lance Jordan, Michael Pollard, Raymond Ryan, Stephen King, Stephen Phillips, Terry Astin and Neil Harris. In total, they have raised more than £20,000 to help fund Mercy Ships medical programmes in West Africa – and the cash is still pouring in.
"When I saw it advertised on the Mercy Ships website, my heart did a big leap and thump in my chest, and I just knew I had to do it!” said Hilary Everett.
"I thoroughly enjoyed all of it," said Stephen Phillips. "Even the times when I was totally exhausted. And I learnt much about cycling and the importance of food and water intake! However the friendships developed during the ride were probably the thing that made it most enjoyable."
“It’s such a great cause,” says Gill van Hasselt. “I am inspired by the work done onboard the Africa Mercy and the work done in the wider community – bringing hope and healing to some of the poorest nations in the world.”
“I was so glad to have been able to cycle for Mercy Ships,” said Denis Oppong-Gyapong.
Mercy Ships operates the largest charity-run hospital ship in the world, delivering free, safe medical care to some of the world’s least-developed countries, where surgical care is inaccessible or non-existent. This “floating hospital”, the Africa Mercy, is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, who give their expertise for free to help treat dental and eye problems, cleft lips and palates, tumours, club feet, childbirth injuries, burns and a variety of other conditions.
Since 1978, Mercy Ships has visited more than 55 countries, providing services worth more than £1 billion that have directly helped more than 2.5 million people. This year, the Africa Mercy has already visited Cameroon, and it arrives in Guinea in August.
“We are so thrilled at the effort that our incredible cyclists have put in,” said Christine Brown, Community Fundraiser at Mercy Ships. “We are staggered at the level of perseverance they have shown, battling horrendous heat and cycling for 300 miles – all to raise money to help people in need in Africa. We would like to say an enormous thank you to every single one of them. And, once the pain has subsided, we hope to see them all again next year!”
Mercy Ships is offering a second chance to take part in the London to Paris bike ride this year for anyone who missed out – on 12-16 September. The charity is also running the same event next year. To register interest in either of these events, or any other Mercy Ships challenge event, participants should email email@example.com.
To find out more about Mercy Ships, visit: www.mercyships.org.uk