A team of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research fundraisers were joined by Pedal Heaven professional cyclist Simon Holt last night (Thursday 4 June) as they represented the charity in the Canary Wharf Corporate Grand Prix. The unique cycling event, which allows members of the public to experience the thrills of a high energy sportive, precluded the Tour Series men’s elite race featuring the likes of Steele Von Hoff and Ed Clancy.
Woolwich resident Andrew Smith, who lost his father 10 years ago this month to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Crystal Palace man Brian Gregory, who lost his nine-year-old son to leukaemia in 1999, joined Berkley Homes colleagues Robert Gibson, David Heylin and Stuart Peel. Robert and David will be taking part in the charity’s epic London to Paris cycling challenge this September.
Andrew has run a spate of marathons and ultra-marathons in the past month, completing his latest one last Saturday. In April he ran the London Marathon for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research in a giant cactus costume, breaking the world record for the fastest plant to complete the course. He said: “Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be treated if spotted early but awareness of the symptoms is very important. That’s why it’s so important to have opportunities like the Tour Series to raise the profile of the disease and also the charity’s work in helping to beat it. I’m delighted I could play my part in that, and also have the excuse to swap my spikes for spokes for a change!”
Brian was interviwed ahead of the race by ITV Sport presenter Ned Boutling about his involvement with the charity and his fundraising. Cycling holds a special place in Brian’s heart after his son, Jamie took part in the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research London Bikeathon just two weeks before he passed away from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Brian was given the honour of ringing the bell to signify the final lap of the elite event. Watched and supported by his daughter Izzy, he added: “It was a real privilege to not only ride within the Grand Prix team but signify the last lap of the elite’s race. Jamie will never be forgotten, and ringing that bell was another way to show that. It was a very special moment and great to be able to share it with Izzy.”
Blood cancer charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is the official charity partner of Britain’s biggest cycle races in 2015, including the Tour Series in May and June, Friends Life Women’s Tour in June and the Friends Life Tour of Britain in September. The partnership will raise awareness amongst spectators and participants of leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Matt Lawley, Head of Sports Events at the charity, said: "To watch our team of fundraisers race around the course in the charity's red jerseys was really special. We were delighted that they could join us yesterday to represent those affected by blood cancer and continue to help us shine a spotlight on this disease.”
For more information on Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research's involvement in Britain's biggest cycling event, click here.