A cancer survivor and a father-of-two are among those taking part in a charity cycle ride being organised by transport company GEFCO UK in aid of BBC Children in Need this September.
The 50 participants who have signed up for the 300-mile initiative, from GEFCO UK headquarters in Coventry, to Paris, have already raised more than £17,000 for the annual BBC charity drive.
“I had an extremely difficult year in 2017, which included treatment for cancer, heart complications during surgery, and contracting e-coli while in hospital,” said Wilma McGrogan, GEFCO UK admin team leader, Fleet Solutions Department, Wilma McGrogan.
“My recovery took almost one year and my fitness levels dropped to below zero, so when the cycle challenge opportunity came up at GEFCO I thought that I should embrace life and challenge myself, including learning how to ride a bike.
“This has had an enormous impact on my life with the training slowly encouraging me back on to a healthy road and I am feeling fitter, stronger, and happier as I train as much as possible for the event.”
McGrogan, from Corby, Northamptonshire, is also scheduling her training around caring for her mother who has dementia, but is determined to continue with the challenge.
“The freedom it gives you whilst out riding is amazing, not just physically or environmentally, but it also clears the head from any worries,” she added.
Family concerns and a desire to raise money for disadvantaged children has motivated other participants to sign up for the challenge, including father-of-two Adam Lilley, from Kettering, Northamptonshire.
“GEFCO announced this challenge in the same week that my dad, who has always been relatively healthy, suffered a heart attack at home following a lengthy spell of what he thought was indigestion,” said Lilley, GEFCO UK vehicle operations manager, GEFCO UK. Lilley
“I have regularly donated to charity out of my income, but there has been a growing sense that it’s not enough, so I hope this opportunity is the first of many where I can actually do more than dip my hand into my own pocket to try and help others.”
The participants are now training intensively as the start date of 7 September quickly approaches, and the group recently completed an 856-mile test ride at Rutland Water, East Midlands.
The group is hoping to raise £50,000, and out of the funds raised so far, Bristol Port has donated £3,500.
The cycle challenge was initiated by GEFCO UK’s human resources department who are supporting the cyclists as they prepare for the event.
“We are incredibly proud of our brave team who have dedicated their spare time to train for the Coventry to Paris cycle challenge in aid of BBC Children in Need,” said Helen Grover, Director of Human Resources, GEFCO UK.
“Corporate social responsibility and employee wellbeing is very important to us at GEFCO, and we are supporting the team in every way possible from providing training programmes through a partnership with Freestyle 360, and organising support vehicles for the event from Jaguar Land Rover.
“Not only is the cycle challenge empowering our staff and raising money for charity, but it is also strengthening our relationship with our colleagues in France, and reinforcing our commitment to ethics at a global level.”
The cyclists will be setting off from Coventry’s Prologis Park GEFCO UK headquarters on 7 September 2018, and they will make their first stop at Blenheim Palace.
On 8 September they will cycle from Reading to Newhaven with a pit stop at tv celebrity Chris Evans’ pub The Mulberry Inn in Sussex, and they will make the ferry crossing on 9 September before arriving at the GEFCO Courbevoie facility in France on 10 September.
The cyclists will be documenting their preparations and the actual event on social media channels which can be followed with the hashtag, #GEFCOC2P.
GEFCO UK is a subsidiary of France-based GEFCO Group offering global supply chain solutions and automotive logistics through a multimodal network.