A Staffordshire fundraiser is proving that you’re never too old to make a difference for a good cause by cycling an amazing 3,210 miles in one year in aid of St Giles Hospice.
Ian Leech, 59, has set himself the target of cycling an average of 60 miles each week in the 12 months before his milestone 60th birthday, which he will celebrate on 19th January 2023.
The 60 2 60 challenge is the latest in a long line of fundraising feats for cyclist Ian, who works at the hospice as its Community Engagement and Supportive Care Manager.
Ian has raised money for St Giles for many years, to thank the hospice for looking after his daughter Melissa. Mel was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2007 and received end of life care at home in 2008, supported by St Giles Hospice nurses.
Previous rides have included cycling from London to Paris (three times), pedaling from Wembley Stadium in London to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium, and cycling 600 miles on an epic ride visiting 30 football grounds, to mark the date that would have been Mel’s 30th birthday.
Ian said: “With my 60th birthday coming up I wanted to mark the event in my own special way. I thought about cycling from London to Paris but I’ve done that before, and then I got the idea of cycling 60 miles each week until I’m 60, and the 60 2 60 challenge was born.
“I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’m doing a variety of organised rides, like St Giles Cycle Spring and Cycle Autumn, some new routes, and a few of my favourite rides like the journey from Louth to Skegness and Mablethorpe.
“It’s also been very sociable, with many friends and St Giles colleagues joining me to keep me company along the way.”
Ian was working for the support services at Staffordshire Police when Mel fell ill, and following her death he started working for the Lymphoma Association before moving to St Giles Hospice in 2013.
“Mel received excellent end of life care from St Giles Hospice and the support they gave our whole family during her final days and after she died made such a difference,” he said. “As a result, the hospice is very close to our hearts.
“I did my first London to Paris cycle challenge a year after Mel died and I found that cycling helped with my grief and made me feel better in myself. It became a great way to raise both awareness and funds, while helping me at the same time.”
Ian said: “I never set a financial target for my rides because I know from working with charities and fundraising myself that every pound received makes a real difference, whether you raise £50 or £5,000.
“I just get my head down and keep cycling. At the moment I’m ahead of my mileage target, but I know that all it takes is a couple of weeks of bad weather and I’m suddenly 120 miles behind and trying to catch up.
“But I love the challenge and I’ve never taken on a fundraising ride that I haven’t enjoyed. I would encourage anyone thinking of fundraising for St Giles to organise their own event or take part in one of our organized events. Planning your challenge is half the fun and you make some amazing memories along the way. I’ll never forget cycling around Wembley Stadium at 3.30am before setting off for the Pirelli Stadium. It was a great experience.”
Chloe Hope, Head of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said that everyone at the hospice was in awe of the target that Ian had set himself and was cheering him on.
“Ian has always been a wonderful fundraiser and ambassador for St Giles Hospice as well as being a great colleague to work with,” she added. “Cycling an average of 60 miles each week for a year is an amazing commitment and it will be an incredible achievement when he crosses the final finish line as his birthday comes around in January. We’d all like to wish him the best of luck.
“It costs £10 million to deliver the care we provide each year to patients and their families who are living with a terminal illness, and there is a growing need for our services. So if anybody else has a great idea to raise funds for St Giles them we’d love to hear from them.
“Our fundraising team are here to support you every step of the way. We can offer advice and send you supporting materials that really help make your challenge or community event stand out. You can get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01543 432538.”
To make a donation to Ian’s 60 2 60 challenge for St Giles Hospice please visit www.justgiving.com/60260
To follow Ian’s progress and read some useful cycling tips, read his weekly blog at https://melsdadian.wordpress.com/
PICTURE CAPTION: Ian Leech in the saddle at this year’s Cycle Spring event in aid of St Giles Hospice.