Two years ago Innerleithen painter and decorator Gordon Smith cycled through the Rocky Mountains in Canada to raise money for the Marie Curie hospice in Edinburgh, writes John Hislop.
After taking a well-deserved rest with his feet up watching TV, Gordon became inspired by the record-breaking, long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont’s adventures, so the bike came out again and he got back on the road hoping to raise £10,000 for the same charity, this time doing an “end-to-ender”.
On July 8, Gordon set off from Land’s End cycling unsupported for the 1,000-mile journey to John O’ Groats with friends he met cycling in Canada.
They were due to finish the marathon trip yesterday (Wednesday).
Gordon worked, periodically, at the Marie Curie hospice in Edinburgh over the past 15 years, and during that time he has always been impressed by the work of staff there, so when his lifelong pal Stevie Inglis died of cancer, he decided to help raise much-needed funds.
A keen cyclist, he decided to ride the 400km (249 miles) route which involved climbing 6,785 feet in the Canadian Rockies. Whilst doing this, he became friendly with other Brits, including a Linlithgow couple who got engaged in Canada.
Gordon told TheSouthern: “Two years ago my best pal Stevie Inglis from Drylaw lost his fight with stomach cancer and I lost a very dear friend at an age that was just too young. It was a very sad experience and a reminder that sometimes we can take so much for granted.
“I’ve worked as a painter and decorator at the Marie Curie hospice, on and off for 15 years, and I have always admired the work done by the doctors and nurses there. When Stevie died, it prompted me to try and raise money for the hospice. I don’t have the wonderful skills of the nurses, doctors and other staff that make a place like Marie Curie tick, but I can ride a bike.
“I’ve always admired Mark Beaumont and followed his career, so I decided to do Land’s End to John O’Groats, which is a must for serious UK cyclists. I intended to do it alone unsupported, but when Roy heard about it, he wanted to do it as well, then the others did likewise.”
His companions for this trip were Kinross caretaker and photographer Roy Munro, 35, Lincolnshire fitness instructor Lisa Chadburn and the couple who got engaged in Canada and were married last year, and for whom the first day on the road was their first wedding anniversary – secondary school teachers Scott Cockburn, 27, and his wife Louisa, 31, from Dunfermline.
Louisa told TheSouthern before setting off: “It wasn’t quite the way I thought I’d be spending my wedding anniversary, but it’s an adventure and I am looking forward to it, apart from sleeping in the tent.”
The group was aiming to complete the journey in 10 days, averaging 90-100 miles per day.
Although the group carried everything they needed themselves, Gordon was quick to thank others who have provided logistical help.
He said: “So far we have raised £7,748.68, but we hope to reach £10k, although I appreciate that money’s tight for everyone these days.
“I would like to thank Short Garage in Dalkeith who have provided us with the use of a minibus to transport our bikes and equipment to Land’s End and also Pendrich Steeplejacks of Rosewell who provided us with a driver. We would not have been able to do the trip without their help.”
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/thecycle and to follow the group’s progress see http://gps.motionx.com/iphone/liveupdates/ and entering 12021 in the channel box.
All the money raised will be spent locally, mostly on nursing hours for patients in the hospice, and also those who need treatment at home.