First World War cycle challenges creates memories and funds for hospice
PUBLISHED: 07:01 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:59 01 October 2018
Cyclists taking part in a Garden House Hospice Care challenge from south London to France have returned, and have raised £14,000 for the Letchworth-based hospice.
From September 14 to 17, the team of 14 cyclists cycled 275 miles from St Christopher’s Hospice, via the First World War battlefields of northern France and Belgium, to the site of the 1918 Armistice in the Forest of Compiènge.
En route, the group commemorated the upcoming 100th anniversary of the war at the Menin Gate in Ypres and at historic sites on the Somme and Vimy Ridge.
Director of patient services at the hospice, Jayne Dingemans, laid a wreath at Menin Gate at the end of day two.
The cycle ride has raised £14,000 for hospice care, with donations still coming in.
Event organiser Richard Harbon said: “The centenary of the end of the First World War is a major event in 2018, and this was the first cycle event the hospice has run.
“The whole event was amazing. We had a wonderful group of riders and support crew who had such a memorable experience, while raising an amazing amount of money.
“Thank you to everyone who took part, volunteers, sponsored and donated.”James Musk, one of the cyclists, crafted a poem highlighting the once in a lifetime trip named ‘Our Journey’.
With the luxury of planning our journey with an end in sight
Our motley crew enlisted, readying body and bike
We trained hard and forged relationships right from the start
United by our challenge, our great cause
And the centenary of our forefathers’ fight
We rallied at St Christopher’s
Full of nervous energy, trepidation of what lay ahead
Our minds wandering to those a century before us
And the magnitude of what they faced instead
With the traffic lights behind us
And the sun sat up high for the day
We found our rhythm on winding country lanes
Following the beautiful pilgrim’s way
Then the hills were upon us
For us rookies our first dose of pain
In those moments we thought of insurmountable losses Of letters home to blighty for those who remained
With the channel behind us, we rode the open land
Its beauty impossible to deny
But a century ago the truth of war deceived it
Turned it all to mud, nothing more than a dirty lie
In tune with our emotional journey
The path before us rose and fell
We regrouped, regaled, listened
To how heaven turned to hell
We visited battles of significance
Listened to horror stories so difficult to comprehend
Visited memorials and paid our respects To the millions of wasted souls who found a bloody end
The countryside broke for graveyards
Side by side so beautifully kept
Represented for eternity in Portland stone
Our lost boys laid down to rest
Battle hardened we pushed on
Often with tears in our eyes
Muscles torn by memory and fatigue
Every pedal another thousand lives.