Yesterday, 31st October, my Tour21 journey came to an end, the final day of fundraising towards my £30,000 target, but it will not be the end of the friendships I have made or the stories I will be able to tell my Grandson Finley, but nevertheless a sad day as I end a special time in my life whilst looking  forward to whatever my next adventure might be. 

I am so humbled by the donations that everyone made to Cure Leukaemia.

Last year, when I started fundraising, £30,000 was as daunting as the ride itself, but with the help of Andy, I set about telling the story of what I was doing and why, so to end with such an incredible grand total of £37,500 is fantastic.  

With Leukaemia affecting so many people, not just the person suffering from the disease but their families and friends as well, it’s hard to find anyone who has not been affected in some way. Being able to explain how Cure Leukaemia use donations to fund TAP nurses, showed everyone how their money would be spent wisely, not only giving a second chance to suffers who had exhausted existing treatments, but developing new solutions and new pathways, that take us another step closer to finding the cure.  

To Se7en Signs of Hope, thank you for choosing Cure Leukaemia for your donation, your work in memory of Mike Jelfs is outstanding, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia will be beaten because of the work you do. Ian and Nikki, Gary and Dawn, thank you for your generosity – I am honoured to have you as friends.. Especially touching were donations from those people who didn’t know me, the lady who donated just because it was for Leukaemia, people from other countries who read my story, and Hillary who sat next to Andy on a flight to Biarritz, on hearing he was on the way to support me through the Pyrenees, she gave him €10 without hesitation. To friends, family and everyone who donated £3, £30, £33 or even £333 in Simon’s name so he could join me in helping others, there are no words that can express my thanks. 

None of this would have happened were it not for those rides with Mike Hopkins, Tim Marshall, and Geoff Thomas as they trained for the 2021 ride. Since then, their encouragement, support in my training and fundraising, taught me that it was not about your ride, but about the hope, inspiration, and direction you can give to others.  They made sure that now I have reached the end of my journey there will be others who will do the same, funding even more support to those who need it, taking inspiration from my story and adding the next chapter themselves. 

The trust that James Mclaughlin and Joe White, from Cure Leukaemia, and our ride Director Andy Cook put in me, that I would complete the ride and hit the fundraising target was outstanding. I was a 60-year-old retired nurse, taking the place of someone younger, fitter and more likely to have the financial contacts needed to raise such a vast amount, but there were no second thoughts only encouragement support and advice. 

From the onset I was told that this would be a life changing experience and I would make new life-long friends. That advice was spot on.  

The ride captains, support team and media crew took away the pressure and allowed me to do the thing I set out to do on the ride … enjoy it!  To not have to think about where or what to eat for lunch; To have clean kit and massages; Thanks to Joolz, I have the memories; All I had to do was ride and savour my experience. When the riding was tough, a welcome Welsh accent was there to give those few words that made me believe I could reach the top of the mountain; Once finished for the day, our own mechanic would sort out any issues to make sure bikes were ready for the next stage. I have been asked if I would do it again, but I don’t think I could better those 3 weeks between Copenhagen and Paris. Never say never, but I can’t think of any way I could have improved my experience. 

As for the new friends, Riders from 2021 and 2022 teams, Support Crew and Ride Captains, a few of us met only last weekend for a meal after a ride in the Cotswolds; a few weeks ago, we did the same on the Isle of Wight, next on the list is a ride in London. From all walks of life we now have that common bond that comes from being part of a very special and unique event.

To all the riders of the 2023 team, my message to you all is that you are about to join an exclusive club, a club full of like-minded people, who want to challenge themselves beyond their capabilities, but more importantly want to help others. As you leave Bilbao on the 24th June, you will already know your fellow team mates, some better than others. 182 kilometres later, you will finish Stage 1 and become one of the Tour21 family for life. 

As of today, The Tour21 team, class of 2022, despite being only 18 riders, raised £927,000. Everyone in the team, riders, ride captains, support crew, media team, and  the team at Cure Leukaemia in the UK, can be extremely proud of what we achieved together, more lives we will be saved, and we have helped move everyone closer to finding a cure. With a full team of 25 for next year’s Tour that great work will continue. 

One final “thank you” to two men who have supported me through every pedal stroke, not just during the Tour, but with fundraising, ride preparation and driving my story to as many people as possible. Mike’s experience and contacts helped me get a head start at every stage, hearing what was needed to fundraise, to prepare and then how to ride 21 stages of the Tour de France was invaluable. How Loz managed to get Bradley Wiggins to send me a message of support astounds me, but it was just one of the many things he has done to help me on the way, setting up this website, ‘shaking the bucket’ at fundraising events, TV Screens at events, helping to get the message out to as many people as possible. Along with Andy, Mike and Loz deserve as much credit as me for the £37,500 raised. 

A few weeks ago, to round of a wonderful cycling year, I rode in the UCI Grand Fondo World Champions in Trento, Italy, coming 11th in my age group. In the early stages of COVID we heard on the news about the loss of life in this area, being one of the first areas in Europe to have a major outbreak. The narrow streets of apartment building reminded me of the stories of singing from balconies showing the very best side of humanity when all hope seemed to be lost. It was a reminder about how devastating life can be, but at the same time showed how, when working together, and given time, things do get better. The city was now back to normality, busy, vibrant, and full of life, ready to take on the next challenge that life throws its way. I will always be proud to say that I was part of a team that helped in the fight against Blood Cancer, giving someone the chance of a normal life, giving a family more time with a loved one, getting a life back on track. 

I’m not sure what my next challenge will be, but one thing I will be sure to do next year is to lend my support to the Tour21, class of 23. The route of the Tour de France is daunting, exhausting, and true test of resilience, but thanks to Cure Leukaemia it is one of the most rewarding things you can do. 

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