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Monday, 14 July 2014

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Carlisle MP begins 440-mile charity cycle ride to London

Carlisle MP John Stevenson had to make a dash back to the city from London this week, only to head straight down there once again – this time to fulfil his pre-election pledge to cycle to Westminster for the Eden Valley Hospice.

John Stevenson photo
John Stevenson

Bleary-eyed Mr Stevenson and friends, who make up the Bike2Parliament team, started their ride from the Eden Valley Hospice at 8.30am yesterday. It was less than four hours after he had stepped off the overnight sleeper train from the capital.

They will cycle 440 miles to central London and hope to arrive on Monday.

Mr Stevenson said the ride had mostly been organised by his friend Richard Wise.

The 47-year-old MP said: “Some people say it is a mad idea but it seemed a good idea when we were campaigning. If we can reach £10,000 for the hospice it will be extra special. We set a target of £10,000 and so far we’ve raised more than £8,500.”

A former keen cyclist, Mr Stevenson added: “I’m slightly apprehensive.

“I had to be in London for the announcement on the Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday. Then I had to do various interviews and take part in a vote at 9pm before I got on the train back up here at 11.30pm. It arrived at 5am and I managed to get home before coming to the hospice for the start.

“I’ve not cycled like this for 20 years but I’m looking forward to it, although training has been sporadic.”

He will be accompanied on the trip by friends Richard Wise, Simon Harrison, Colin Jones, Paul McKnespiey, Chris Root, Julie Jones and Richard Hortin.

Insurance broker Mr Hortin, 43, joined the group in the summer. His father Alan died at the hospice in July after battling cancer.

Married father-of-two Mr Hortin is formerly from Wigton but now lives near Kelso. He said: “The staff here are absolutely fantastic. I was here one day reading the local paper when I saw a story about John doing the bike ride. It asked anyone interested in joining him to get in touch.

“I wanted to do something to help them here. I may still do something myself next year but I decided to get in touch with Richard Wise, I know him from years ago.”

Jonny Leech, Simon Long, Phil Whitehead and Mike Wilson joined the eight core cyclists on yesterday’s first 80-mile leg to Ingleton. The team, followed by a support vehicle, were cheered by family, friends and members of Cycle Carlisle.

Hospice chairman Carole Ferguson said: “The energy and effort people put into supporting the hospice is fantastic.”

To support Bike2Parliament, call Eden Valley Hospice on 01228 810801 or donate online at www.justgiving.com/Bike2Parliament.

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