On Sunday 6 May, 425 people took to their bikes and cycled either 30 or 60km in the second annual Hit the Downs MTB event, organised by local hospices, St Barnabas House in Worthing and Chestnut Tree House – the children’s hospice for Sussex and South East Hampshire.
Sponsorship money is still coming in, but the event is set to raise around £23,000 for St Barnabas and £36,000 for Chestnut Tree House, which will cover five days of all care services provided by Chestnut Tree House and over 14 days of Day Hospice care at St Barnabas House.
A range of people took part in Hit the Downs MTB, from individuals and families to cycling clubs and corporate teams. Riders opted for either a 30 or 60km route, which started and ended within the grounds of Windlesham House School. The first cyclists set off at 7:20am, and started arriving back mid-morning, with the final participants passing the finish line just before 5pm.
Describing the route as “tough”, Kev Mason cycled 60km to raise money for Chestnut Tree House in memory of his daughter, Poppy. Kev has raised £705 so far for the children’s hospice – exceeding his original £100 target.
When asked why he chose to support Chestnut Tree House, Kev Mason said: “It’s the other way around really. Chestnut Tree House supported my wife and I in July 2017 when we lost our daughter. Our world imploded and Chestnut Tree House were there for us, they supported us. They helped us get our lives back on track. The grief doesn’t go away, but we’re in a better place. We’re really grateful for the support we received and they’ve helped us a lot.”
Nick Laudram, director at Eurotiles and Bathrooms, was riding with Steve Bosley, Kelvin Fry and Jon Funnell as part of a team of four called the Buddington Bottom Bikers. Between them have already raised over £2,000 for St Barnabas House.
Explaining his reasons for taking part in the event, Nick said: “My father-in-law, Ray Oakley, was looked after a few years ago (by St Barnabas House). The care he received was amazing. We’ve all got connections to the hospice over many years and it’s a great thing to raise some money for. You realise, all this money that’s raised, they need every penny.”
Lisa Beck, 46, a forensic scientist from Redhill, was one of the first riders to complete the 60km route. Lisa is training for a 700km, 7 day ride through the Pyrenees later this year.
Lucy Brady, Events Fundraiser at St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House, said: “We introduced Hit the Downs MTB to our events calendar last year and it was really successful, so we were delighted to be able to repeat it in 2018. It was great to get so much positive feedback on the day and all the participants and supporters seemed to really enjoy it.
“Both St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree House rely heavily on the support of the local community so that they can continue to provide all their specialist care services, so events like this really are invaluable. We’re hoping to raise around £60,000 in total and would like to thank all the cyclists who took part, as well as the supporters and volunteers who helped out.”