Ray’s windswept 1,000-mile quest for Toby and St Luke’s

He cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats… then climbed a mountain

As challenging ways to fundraise for St Luke’s go, Ray East’s 1,000-mile, 12-day cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats – battling rain and strong head winds all the way – was no mean feat.

What’s even more remarkable is that the morning after completing his two-wheel quest in memory of family friend Toby Brann, Ray donned his climbing boots to conquer Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.

Safely back home in Plymouth, the 60-year-old ex-military man and retired firefighter admitted it had been a gruelling mission but was worth all the effort to shine a light on St Luke’s care and raise, to date, more than £1,500 for the hospice.

“I did it in memory of Toby who was cared for by St Luke’s at home before he died in March this year. My wife Lisa and I are friends with his mum and dad, Helen and Rob,” said Ray, who carried a photo of 23-year-old Toby with him on his journey.

  • Toby Brann with St Luke’s Nurse Consultant Jen Nicholls

“Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats is something that I have wanted to do for a while, but after what happened with Toby, I knew St Luke’s was a good cause to do it for. I was aware of the hospice before, but didn’t realise they come into people’s homes, which makes such a difference.”

Ray, who now works for the DDRC health care and research organisation in Plymouth as hyperbaric oxygen chamber supervisor, keeps himself pretty fit, but after setting off from Land’s End on 29 May, he says it was tough going all the way.

“The cycle was very, very, very hard.”

“The weather was against me the whole time – it was so windy – and I was averaging about 90 miles a day.

“It was a struggle. I am fairly fit, but the conditions were very tough. I do cycle regularly but the furthest I’d been before was cycling to London in a day, but that was a long time ago.
“I’ve never done a big ride one day and got up the next day to do another one, and then another.”

For the first couple of days Lisa followed Ray’s route through hilly Devon and Cornwall in the car, providing snacks and drinks, and they stayed together at B&Bs, but from Crediton right up to Cumbria he was on his own, battling the weather without back-up and carrying all his luggage on the bike.

A mountain bonus

Ben Nevis wasn’t part of the original plan, but Ray’s son, Greg, was joining him at Penrith in a camper van for the second week of the quest, and it was on both their bucket lists to climb the 1,345-metre peak. That meant Ray upping his game to cycle up to 102 miles on long and tiring 12-hour plus days.

“I needed to increase my mileage through Scotland because I wanted to do Ben Nevis with my son at the end and we only had the camper van for eight days. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my legs are feeling it now!”

Support Ray’s fundraiser

Huge thanks to Ray and his family for such an amazing effort. If you would like to support his fundraising quest for St Luke’s, there’s still time to donate via his JustGiving page.

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