Fundraising for YoungMinds: The Big Cycle
Hello I’m Hugh Valentine and during August this year I cycled Lands’ End to John O’Groats in less than eight days. The reason I did this was my sister Aimee passed away in June last year and I wanted to do something good in her memory and raise as much money as possible for charity.
Following Aimee’s funeral, my mother was looking for a charity for all the donations we received. We found YoungMinds, a charity helping young people deal with mental health issues.
While Aimee never had the opportunity to take advantage of YoungMinds’ services, I know how important these services can be, having grown up with a young person going through the pain and anguish of depression and suffering bipolar.
When she passed away I set myself a challenge of cycling Lands’ End to John O’Groats. A colleague from work, Gary and I embarked on a 12 month journey of training that would result in us cycling the entire distance of the UK in under eight days.
We started cycling at a spinning class during the cold winter months and set a training programme to start cycling 100 miles per week building up to 300 miles a week by July. I faced some challenges while training as due to work commitments during June and July I had to travel to European plants on a weekly basis which severely affected my training. We were lucky to be able to commute to work each day and some days we’d cycle 70-80 miles getting up at 5.30am and finish in the evening at 7.30pm and still working a full day in between.
The planning for our journey took a long time. We had to get the route correct; we wanted a balance of being on quiet roads but not adding too much extra distance to the journey. We also wanted to keep costs down so we tried to find places to stay at each point as cheaply as possible which meant we could raise as much money as possible for charity. The final challenge was transporting our gear from start to finish such as clothing, spare wheels, inner tubes etc. We didn’t want to carry it all on our bikes. Eventually after looking at many different options, Gary’s parents offered to follow us as a support team and help carry all of our equipment.
Finally I wanted to raise as much money as possible for charity so planning our fundraising over the 11 months was essential. We started a blog www.le-to-jog.co.uk to keep our training plan available to friends and family as well as raise awareness of our causes. We enlisted friends and family to raise money on sponsor forms, I also got my legs waxed to get people to donate more money! Our biggest donations came from our workplace APPE who donated £1000 and we sent a personal letter to our suppliers who donated an amazing £2500 between them. I also hosted a fundraising evening, a casino night, the week after we had finished and got local businesses to donate prizes for the raffle; this helped us raise an extra £500!
As for the cycling itself Lands’ End to John O’Groats, we headed to Lands End on 23rd August and stayed overnight before setting off on the morning of the 24th. The weather was terrible, it was awful, there was torrential rain, it was blowing a gale. We hoped this wasn’t the start of things to come! We knew the first two days would be tough. The first day was Lands’ End to Okehampton and it was very hilly and the second day was on to Gloucester which was 136 miles in total. We wrongly though it would get easier from there onwards!!
Some highlights of the trip were the many donations we received on the way, our support team had some t-shirts printed with our challenge details on so often people would ask about us then donate to our cause. The generosity of people is amazing. Riding alongside the lochs especially Loch Ness was particularly amazing and we got the opportunity to take some brilliant pictures and see some fantastic sights.
The worst part of the trip was when we were cycling towards Glencoe. We climbed a huge mountain called Rannoch Moor, once we’d reached the summit the weather took a turn for the worse and we were caught in a thunderstorm. As we descended into Glencoe we became very cold and were drenched. We were supposed to continue to Fort William but had to change our plans and hotels and stay in the village of Glencoe. It worked out quite well as the next day was very sunny.
It was all worth it in the end as we finally cycled into John O’Groats to be greeted by our families who were cheering and celebrating!!
Altogether I raised nearly £8000 for the charity YoungMinds and raised awareness of their cause. Between us we raised £11,000 which all went to good causes.
Thanks for the support of my family, friends and amazing girlfriend.
If you’d like to read more about my journey, including a breakdown of each day you can visit my blog at http://www.le-to-jog.co.uk/posts/
Hugh’s donation page is here:- http://www.justgiving.com/Valentine-Hugh
If you would like to fundraise for YoungMinds find more information here.