Ian Leech, Community Engagement Manager for Lichfield-based St Giles Hospice, will be cycling from London to Burton on August 3rd in memory of his daughter Mel.
Mel died aged 20 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008. Since then, Ian has raised thousands of pounds for charity in her memory, with this challenge in aid of St Giles Hospice.
Ian’s last cycle ride was an epic 600-mile journey to 30 football clubs for what would have been Mel’s 30th birthday which also finished at Burton Albion, a club which meant a great deal to them both.
He is hoping to arrive at Burton on Saturday by half time, where he will be welcomed by club chairman Ben Robinson.
“Mel was a huge Liverpool supporter, whereas I was an Everton fan, but Burton Albion was the local club we both supported and I have so many great memories of us going along to matches together,” Ian said.
“I’ll be leaving Wembley in the early hours of the Saturday morning to cycle up the 130 miles up to Burton, arriving during the first home match of the season at half time.
“It’s going to be a very long day and there are some big hills but I’m looking forward to the ride and hopefully a warm welcome from the crowd when I arrive.”
Ian will be joined for part of the ride by his friend, Pete Seedhouse, and his daughter Becky will accompany him for the final 25 miles to Burton.
Ian regularly supports people affected by bereavement and grief as part of his work in community engagement and shares his experiences of the impact of Mel’s death.
“Mel dying has had a massive effect on our family and we live with the impact of that every day.
“I hope sharing our story will raise money for St Giles, and will also raise awareness of the impact of bereavement and the support that’s available for people who are grieving.
“There are now 13 Bereavement Help Points throughout the local area, which are free drop in groups run in partnership with other community organisations to provide a listening ear for people who are grieving.
“They are part of a ‘safety net’ for the community, which also includes our work with schools, businesses and community organisations to open up conversations about death and dying.”
Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson said he was looking forward to welcoming Ian at the game in August.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Ian and the St Giles team to create such strong links with the club and in the wider community,” he said.
“I wish him the best of luck with the ride and I am sure there will be a very warm welcome from the crowd on the day as Ian is a familiar face at the club.”
A bucket collection will take place before the match in aid of St Giles Hospice and will be supported by members of the academy squad from Romulus FC. If you would like to contribute to Ian’s challenge please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stadium2stadium
Bethany Richardson, Regional Fundraiser for St Giles Hospice, said: “Ian’s continued support and commitment to raising awareness and vital funds for St Giles is amazing and we’d all like to say a big thank you.
“There’s been a great deal of training and preparation for the ride and we’d like to wish him the best of luck for the day.
“The funds raised by challenges like Ian’s help us raise the £9 million pounds it costs to keep the hospice running every year, so if anyone is considering a similar challenge please get in touch.”
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