AN East Boldre dad is preparing to embark on a cross-country cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise thousands of pounds for meningitis charities.
Toby Paxton (54) will lead a 13-strong group of friends – nicknamed the Paxton Peddlars – in the epic challenge which will involve sleeping in tents and covering up to 110 miles daily for nine days.
They have already gathered about £58,000 for the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and the charity For Lucie for which Toby was inspired to support after his now 10-year-old son Monty contracted the potentially deadly illness as a baby.
Toby recalls: “Monty contracted pneumococcal meningitis when he was six weeks old. For a while it was touch and go but against the odds, he survived.
“He did not escape unscathed though and, now nine years old, he is living with the consequences of this brutal and indiscriminate disease, not least in his current battle against a debilitating and hugely distressing neurological condition.”
Also in the challenge will be Toby’s longstanding friend David Recce from Lymington, and friends and acquaintances from around the country including Jon Page, who founded the charity For Lucie in memory of his daughter who died at 16 days old from group B streptococcal meningitis in 2010.
Toby continued: “Fundamentally, Monty is a normal, happy, funny, giving and loving son and brother. And most importantly, he is here. Many other children and their families are not so fortunate.
“I really wanted to get a team together to do something that would make a significant contribution to the ongoing battle to eliminate meningitis from our lives.”
Toby admits to not even being a hobby cyclist when he signed up for the Deliotte Ride across Britain, which is organised by the company he works for.
He said: “It has been quite a journey for all of us training and preparing over the last year. I am already so proud of the team and what we have achieved. We have been training hard to become cyclists.
“The New Forest has been an excellent place to train – the only problem is that it’s a bit flat so we have done a few practices around the Isle of Wight.”
Toby hopes to go way beyond the £58,000 gathered so far, adding: “I genuinely am absolutely chuffed to bits with the amount we have raised.
“People have been very very generous and I’ve also been amazed by how many people who have supported us have been personally effected by meningitis.”
The team are set to embark on the challenge tomorrow (Saturday) and finishing in John O’Groats on 16th September. They will be covering 975 miles over nine days and over the course of the ride will climb nearly 52,000ft, which is approximately twice the height of Everest.
Rob Dawson, from the Meningitis Research Foundation said, “We’re incredibly grateful to the Paxtons Pedallars team and £58,000 is a staggering amount to raise.
“It’s fantastic to see what a determined group can achieve together and we wish them the best of luck as they undertake their challenge. The funds they raise will help us enormously with our work including our research, awareness and support programmes.”
Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/companyteams/PaxtonsPedallars.