Cricketing legend Marcus Trescothick battled the elements during a five-day ‘Trestimonial’ cycle ride across the South West in aid Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).
The Somerset County Cricket Club batsman and former England star is used to facing storms at the wicket, but heavy rain and 60mph winds threatened to blow the star’s 324-mile ride off course as Storm Callum swept across the region on Friday.
Joined by around 30 cyclists over the five days, the 2005 Ashes winner set off from his boyhood cricket club of Keynsham in Bristol under blue skies on October 8.
Clocking an average of 65 miles a day, the riders called in at the charity’s Charlton Farm hospice in North Somerset and Little Bridge House hospice in North Devon, before pedalling into the strongest of head winds at the Little Harbour hospice in St Austell on Friday afternoon.
Marcus, who is supporting CHSW in his testimonial year and has been an ambassador for the charity since his benefit year in 2008, also found the time for a game of cricket with pupils at Millfield Prep School in Glastonbury, Blundells School in Tiverton and at Shebbear College in North Devon.
Riders also stopped off at the County Ground in Taunton, South Devon CC in Newton Abbot and Callington CC in Cornwall.
And when high winds did force them off the road on Friday morning, Plymouth’s Nuffield Gym came to the rescue by offering the team the opportunity to cover the equivalent distance on static spin bikes.
Event organiser Eric Cole said: “Due to the terrible weather, we had to change our plans as it would have been dangerous to cycle over the moors. But with the indoor cycling, the team was able to clock up the same number of miles that they would have done had the sun kept shining and the gales not blown in.”
Riding alongside Marcus was Kevin Morris from Bridgwater, whose family is supported by CHSW. Kevin’s son Finley is one of just 70 children in the world known to have a rare genetic condition known as Sodium Channel Brain Disorder, or SCN2A.
It means he is unable to sit up, walk, talk, eat or drink unaided, and he needs constant, 24-hour care. The condition has also left him with uncontrollable epilepsy and very poor eyesight.
Kevin and Finley’s mum Louise Jackson receive 12 nights of respite every year at CHSW’s Charlton Farm hospice, along with Finley’s younger brother Jett.
Speaking to BBC Radio Somerset on Friday morning, Louise said:
It’s hard to put into words just how much the hospice helps Finley. With his condition we experience a life with so many obstacles; but there are literally no limits as to what Finley can do at the hospice. It’s like a wonderland for children; everything is a ‘yes’.
"The hospice gives us that time together as a family and creates so many memories that we can treasure for ever. It is our support pillow; it is there for us 24-7 and when the time comes for Finley, it will be supporting us through what will be the darkest moments of our lives and many other families’ as well.”
Marcus, who is no stranger to charity cycle rides and undertook a similar challenge for CHSW in 2011, said: “It’s been a tough week and sometimes I really had to remind myself of the special reason we were taking on this challenge. It was exhausting, and we encountered a lot of hills along the way, however it is nothing compared to what some families go through, so knowing the support we are helping CHSW to give has made it all worth it.”
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