1,341 cyclists taking on mud, sweat and gears to clock up a combined 34,602 miles; 84 dedicated volunteers braving the elements; 27 marshal points; 12 lead cyclists, and not forgetting 500 oranges to provide much-needed refreshment – this is what it takes to raise vital funds to keep the wheels of local hospice care turning.
Finishing national Hospice Care Week in style – despite the mist and rain – there were bright yellow tee-shirts as far as the eye could see across Dartmoor today, Sunday 13 October. The hills came alive with the community out in force on their bikes to support St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth and help keep its service going for the many families who need it.
Sponsored by Print Copy Scan, a local supplier of printers and copiers, the charity’s annual Tour de Moor challenge attracted 1,341 cyclists of all abilities.
From adrenalin-seekers taking on the tough 23k ride, and even the ultimate test of the gruelling 52km route tackling the hills up to Princetown, to families having fun together on the more gentle 11km route along Drake’s Trail, all harnessed serious pedal power to show their support for the much-loved charity.
Only part funded by the government, St Luke’s is dependent on the community it serves across Plymouth, South West Devon and East Cornwall to raise the funds it needs each year to continue looking after terminally ill people at home, in hospital and at its specialist unit at Turnchapel when time is running short. As well as giving expert end of life care for patients, the charity provides emotional, practical and spiritual support for them and their families, too, making a difference at a very challenging time.
39% of this care and support is given beyond Plymouth, including in homes across Dartmoor, where Tour de Moor takes place.
Participating in the challenge in memory of a special man, Clive Moxham (pictured), was his son-in-law, Colin Presland, who was determined to take on the 23km route despite sustaining an injury during training. There to support him was wife, Angie. Twenty-eight years ago, the couple – who live in Plymouth – named their newborn son Luke after St Luke’s because the charity cared for Clive so compassionately in his last days of life.
Colin said: “It felt so important to get on my bike today in memory of Clive, despite a calf injury. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, knowing St Luke’s will benefit from the money raised.”
Angie said: “Dad was a wonderful man and I’ll never forget the way St Luke’s went above and beyond to look after him with such kindness and care. Their support, and Dad’s strength of spirit, meant that even though sadly, he did not live long enough to meet our son Luke, he passed away knowing his new grandson had just been safely delivered. That has always brought me such comfort and it’s why St Luke’s will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Also braving the elements were Felicity Knell of Torpoint and her partner’s daughter, nine year-old Abbey Gallacher. Along with friends also remembering loved ones, they took part in memory of Felicity’s much-loved mum, Pat, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Pat, who had cancer, received care from the St Luke’s team within Derriford Hospital before she was discharged to a nursing home.
Felicity said: “Mum was such a caring, bubbly person and seeing her so ill in hospital was really hard. What was so amazing was that we didn’t have to go looking for St Luke’s help while she was there – they came to us. Their team was so reassuring and they really supported us as a family.
“I always try to do whatever I can to support St Luke’s and at the Dockyard, where I work, everyone rallies to help. Like me, they know if it wasn’t for this charity so many people would miss out on vital help right when they need it most.”
Taking part from Peter Tavy was Laura Russo. She said: “It was so important to be part of Tour de Moor in support of my dear friend Mark Chubb, whose lovely mum Sally was looked after by St Luke’s at Turnchapel in her last few weeks of life.
“I know the team there helped make a really difficult time into something really special, and Sally was able to make the most of the time she had left with Mark, her two daughters and their children. We mustn’t take what St Luke’s does for granted and events like Tour de Moor really do make a difference.”
Penny Hannah, Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, said: “Today’s turn out for Tour de Moor has once again been incredible and we’re hugely grateful to everyone who’s braved the course – and the elements – today.
“St Luke’s provides care and support free of charge to patients and their families but it does not come cheap. It’s the way our big-hearted community gets behind us that means we can continue to do what we do and make a difference to so many local families. Everyone who took part by cycling or volunteering has done us all proud!”