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Fundraiser takes on sixth ride challenge after completing coastal hike

11 June 2024 CHSW

A cancer survivor who has raised thousands of pounds for a children’s hospice is to get back in the saddle for the charity – just weeks after completing a 60 mile coastal hike.

Rob Berry, 56, is climbing back on his bike for the sixth time to take part in Children’s Hospice South West’s Ride for Precious Lives next month, after already completing the charity’s Incredible Hike in May.

Rob, a quantity surveyor, has been taking part in the Ride for Precious Lives since 2018 raising thousands of pounds for the charity.

He first learnt about the work of Children’s Hospice South West at a charity coffee morning at work where he met CHSW area fundraiser Kylie Gallagher.

“There was a charity coffee morning at work when my managing director’s PA told me to poke my nose in the door and see what it was all about,” said Rob.

“That was when I met Kylie and heard all about the work of Children’s Hospice South West.”

After being inspired by the work of the charity, Rob signed up for his first Ride for Precious Lives in 2018 – and has been participating ever since.

Each year he raises in excess of £2,000 for the charity, collecting sponsorship from work colleagues and friends.

I tell people that the Ride for Precious Lives is the best three days you will ever spend on a bike, said Rob.

“Not only that, but you are raising funds for an incredible charity at the same time,”

Rob says his own personal battle with cancer spurred him on to start his fundraising journey.

At the age of 22 he was diagnosed with having a number of cysts on his testicles.

After tests it was decided to monitor his condition and life carried on.

But aged 35 his local hospital was offering screening checks to past patients, with his mum encouraging him to attend.

“Mum rang me and told me I should go along,” said Rob. “But at the time I was healthy, fit, working and playing in a band so didn’t follow it up.”

Six months later the same screening option was offered.

“Mum was back on the phone again and initially I wasn’t keen,” said Rob.

“But she kept on that I should go so I booked an appointment.”

Man completing Incredible Hike

What came next rocked Rob’s world when scans showed he had a shadow on one of his testicles.

Test revealed the shadow was cancer and he underwent immediate surgery.

“I then developed an infection in the wound and ended up back in hospital,” he said.

“The next thing they told me was that the cancer had spread to my lungs.”

Rob then had to undergo a course of radiotherapy.

“After that I wallowed for a few years,” said Rob.

“It had all come as a shock and I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

“I felt like I have no direction or drive at that point.”

But after a chance meeting with a man called Ian, who was suffering with a brain tumour, Rob decided to fundraise for his new friend.

“He was so incredible in facing what he was dealing with, I asked myself what do I have to moan about and I decided to do something positive to help,”

Rob, who has made a full recovery from his cancer diagnosis, then began fundraising for Brain Tumour Research, work that saw him nominated – along with Ian – to be a torchbearer for the London 2012 Olympics

It was one of the last things that Ian did before his death in August 2012.

Rob then developed Crohn’s Disease and was forced to stop work in 2014. After learning how to manage his condition, he began a new job in 2015 as a quantity surveyor with Persimmon Homes and moved to Bradley Stoke in Bristol.

“It was then I decided to pick up my charity work again and since I met Kylie I’ve not looked back since.” 

This year saw Rob and six of his work colleagues take part in CHSW’s Incredible Hike – a 60 mile trek along the south west coast path from Minehead to Croyde.

Fundraising for Children’s Hospice South West has changed my life, said Rob.

“It gave me a goal and the drive and something to aim for every year knowing what I achieve will help such an incredible organisation to continue its vital work.

“Not only that but by taking part in these events I have met people who will be friends for life.”

This year’s Ride for Precious Lives will see more than 100 cyclists bike more than 200 miles across the south west between July 12 and 14  from Bristol to St Austell in Cornwall over three days, visiting all three of the CHSW hospices on route.

Rob, a dad of one, has been getting ready for the challenge by going out on cycle rides across the local area.

Man completing Incredible Hike

“I have to say it’s been tough to get back on the bike since I did hike,” he laughed.

“My legs just aren’t playing ball – I think they are still in hike mode.

“I’ve also signed up for next year’s hike too. It was so amazing I was the first person to register.

“As the hike is going to take 10 years to complete the whole coast path I’ve had to put off my five year retirement plan as I need the continued sponsorship from my amazing colleagues.

“But that will be worth it knowing how much money it will raise for Children’s Hospice South West.”

CHSW area fundraiser Amanda Leonard said: “We cannot thank Rob enough for his dedication and support to the charity year on year, not only raising vital funds but helping us spread the word about our events and helping to recruit others to take part."