Cycling 2100 miles from Lisbon to Manchester for St Ann’s Hospice

Dedicated supporter Neil Williamson is halfway through his European cycling challenge for St Ann’s Hospice and Jamie Horrocks Trust, and updates us on his progress.

By Jenn Hughes on June 9, 2023

I’ve reached halfway through my European cycling challenge, as I approach the border of France having cycled from Lisbon through Spain clocking 1200 miles as of yesterday.

I’m still so pleased to be taking on this challenge for two charities that are close to my heart and mean so much to me.

My mum was cared for by St Ann’s Hospice by the Hospice@Home Team and at their Little Hulton site. After my mum died in 2017, I almost immediately started bereavement counselling with Hazel Wilcock from the hospice’s Patient and Family Support Team.

Hazel was instrumental in helping me through some of the darkest and toughest times of my life. I was devastated to hear she died in 2021 when I tried to get back in touch with her, so I ever since I have wanted to push myself to raise as much money for the hospice in her memory.

Another charity I am supporting is the Jamie Horrocks Trust. Jamie was a friend of mine, we were friends since being teenagers and played football together for over 10 years. He was well loved by everyone in the local area and is sorely missed. The trust was established in February 2015 in memory of Jamie who took his own life in 2013, aged 37.

The trust raises funds in Jamie’s name for community-based projects that reduce the risks and support those affected by suicide.

I have always been mindful that I wanted to take on a particularly challenging fundraiser, and losing these people close to me has given me the motivation to dedicate myself to this. Neil Williamson, Supporter

I’ve set the target of £5000 to raise, as I attempted this challenge last year but had to drop out as I injured myself and couldn’t continue. I am determined to finish my challenge this time.

Taking on this cycling fundraiser again, I want to raise even more to beat last year’s efforts and make myself to do something that’s going to push me far beyond anything I’ve done before!

As well as covering over 2000 miles, I’ll be riding up hills that are equivalent to riding up Everest nearly three times – almost 80,000 feet of climbing!

I was hoping to cycle at least 130 miles a day, with my target set at 16 days to cycle from Lisbon, down to near Gibraltar and then up through Spain and France before I arrive back in England and up to Manchester.

I’ve enjoyed cycling through Spain despite the hot weather which I’m sure will continue into France! I’ve been averaging 100 miles a day but hoping to raise that as I get to a flatter route through France.

Both charities mean so much to me, I want to honour both of them with my fundraising. I’ll be forever grateful for St Ann’s Hospice who supported my mum, and on the back of that support she was able to live again for a short period before she died.

Please donate if you can to my JustGiving page, it would be amazing to give as much as possible to the charities that I have such special connections to.

You can keep up to date with my cycling progress on my Instagram or Strava, where I’m posting daily about my challenge. Live tracking can be found here.