Preston retiree to honour late friend with 1,100-mile Rosemere cycle

Posted on - 1st September, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Garstang, People, Preston News, Wyre News
Simon and John. Pic: Rosemere

A retired Preston history teacher who now works as a climbing instructor is to complete a 1,100-mile charity cycle to Land’s End in South West England.

Simon Millward-Hopkins will undertake the challenge in tribute to a late friend, whose ‘initiative and example’ inspired local youngsters to get on their bikes, raising funds for Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

The 66-year-old father-of-two, who works at Preston Wall Climbing Centre, is to set out from Wick in the far north of Scotland on Wednesday, 31 August.

Read more: In pictures: Preston Community Hub hosts annual Summer Fair fundraiser

But he expected to make the trip with his usual cycle companion and former Garstang High School, now Garstang Academy, colleague Brian Jensen of Morecambe, who taught chemistry.

Simon said: “Initially, Covid-19 stood in our way, and then tragically, Brian died in a road traffic accident near Levens. He had done the south to north Land’s End to John O’Groats route multiple times but never the other way round.

“Brian encouraged many pupils to take up cycling, and his initial idea led to pupil Sammie Stuart riding the National Three Peaks with a Year 10 charity supporting group.

“Sammie is now one of the top female cyclists in the country, winning races covered on television and riding for the Cams Basso team while working as a fire officer.”

Read more: Loved ones help raise £50,000 in memory of Leyland woman

Brian encouraged pupils to cycle, founding and leading an annual staff and pupil charity Land’s End to John O’Groats bike ride for many years.

Simon was a regular participant and took on the role himself. Taking on the journey in reverse was something he and Brian planned for last August to celebrate Brian’s 80th birthday.

It was also set to be a fundraiser for Rosemere Cancer Foundation to thank them for the successful treatment of Simon’s wife, Ruth, a former English teacher at Penwortham High School.

Read more: City of Preston Road Race returns for Rosemere Cancer Foundation

Simon said: “Guy Jones, another ex-Garstang student, rode the Trans Pennine Trail with the school under my leadership.

“He is now part of a French pro cycling team, Montaubon Cyclisme 82, riding as a domestique, an experience that may lead him to team leadership and a possible career in coaching.

“Both of them had joined the school’s organised cycling challenges and hopefully found something special in their first big bike rides.”

Keeping Simon company on his otherwise unsupported trip will be another Prestonian, John Ferris, 63, who, like Simon, used to play rugby for Preston Grasshoppers and will use his ride to raise funds for research into motor neurone disease (MND).

Read more: Let’s Grow Preston: The grassroots charity feeding the city’s hungry residents 

They aim to average 50 miles a day in the saddle, meaning they should reach Land’s End on Friday, 23 September, having pedalled through Preston on day 15 of the challenge.

For his cycle, Simon will wear a Rosemere Cancer Foundation t-shirt signed by many of his sponsors, including Preston Central Methodist Church, where he and Ruth worship.

He said: “I am both humbled and encouraged by the generosity of the many people supporting me to raise funds for Rosemere.

“I am hoping the signed t-shirt will inspire me not to give up when the going is tough. I owe Rosemere Cancer Centre an enormous debt for enabling my wife to beat cancer twice.

“I want to help it provide further successful treatment for patients who can then, like my wife, ring the bell to say their cancer journey is successfully over.”

Read more: St Catherine’s Hospice invites residents to next Morecambe Bay Walk

Simon is also currently on course to collect more than £1,500 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation via his online fundraising page.

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