Cyclists get heroes’ welcome home from family, friends and football stars

By News Team on July 5, 2019

On Sunday 9th June a group of cyclists set off from Barcelona to Manchester to fulfil a promise made to the father and friend of the group.

Last year when Charles Mitten died at St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton, the family were so struck by the welcome they had received in the final hours of his life that they wanted to do something to give back.

We felt helpless, and wondered what we could do to help so I told my dad that we would be raising money by cycling from Barcelona to Manchester in 2019. He told us that it was a bit much, and asked if we could avoid the mountains, but I explained we couldn’t move the Pyrenees. Andy Mitten, Charles’ son

The team of five cyclists were made up of Andy, his brothers, Jonathan and Sam, plus friends John-Paul O’Neill and Steve Price. They also had lots of generous support for helping with everything from driving, massages, cooking and cleaning.

It took eight months of planning and training for the challenge. The route was 1200 miles in total via Girona, Perpignan, Carcassone, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Cognac, Angers, Cherbourg, Portsmouth, Oxford, Birmingham and finishing in Manchester.

After 16 days cycling the group were greeted at Old Trafford Football Ground by family, friends, plus football stars Andy Cole, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. After interviews and hugs all round a welcome home party was held in the Stretford Suite at Old Trafford.

Following the fantastic care my dad received at St Ann’s Hospice we promised my dad we would give something back to them. We know St Ann’s is a charity and that they need to raise £40,000 for a new ambulance, and that’s what our target was. People throughout this city can benefit from this ambulance, we can’t get our dad back, but some positive can come from his passing. A big thanks to everyone who donated and those who welcomed us back at Old Trafford. Thank you also to staff at Old Trafford for putting on the welcome party for us all. My dad was the head of a football family and we’re all big Manchester United supporters so a welcome home at one of our favourite places seemed fitting. We had some really tough conditions cycling and lots of punctures, probably about 30 in all! But we’re all buzzing to finish it, although I don’t ever want to sit on a bike ever again! Andy Mitten

A few hours before they reached the finish line they reached the target of £40,000 and are now closer to £50,000.

This was an incredible challenge that the group took on, they’ve all shown real dedication and determination and we’re so thankful that they decided to do it to raise much needed funds for St Ann’s. It was amazing to welcome them all back in Manchester. The ambulance will make a big difference to our inpatients, and also our outpatients who come to the hospice for appointments and day therapy. Anne-Marie Wynne, Head of Fundraising at St Ann’s

The team has gathered the support of sponsors including Red Army Bet, Meadows Gin, Brittany Ferries, and Fat Heads. Others are also walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall and playing in a football tournament to raise additional funds for the cause.

To donate to the team’s fundraising page, please visit: