Charity’s joy at £11,500 boost from cycle team

A determined group of cyclists pedalled 175 miles in just 16 hours to raise at least £11,500 for a Dorchester charity helping children with disabilities.

Employees from Wantage marketing company The Marketing Practice cycled across Oxfordshire and Wiltshire on July 10 to raise the funds for the Footsteps Foundation, which assists the youngsters with neurological disorders.

They began their marathon challenge at 4.30am in Marlborough before finishing in East Hendred, near Wantage, at about 8pm.

Six out of the eight fundraisers managed to complete the entire 175-mile journey, while the other two got as far as the 150-mile point in Reading.

Stu Whyte, 32, of Caversham, who pedalled his way around the whole route, said: “We had never cycled as a group before but it all just seemed to fall into place.

“On the last part of the trip – the road down to Oxford and then East Hendred – the team somehow become much stronger and we pedalled harder than before.”

Fellow team cyclist, Brian Mace, 39, of Whitchurch-on-Thames, who also covered the 175 miles, said: “It’s by far the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken and despite being exhausting, it was an enthralling day.”

The team stopped for regular breaks along the way, with the longest period in the saddle at any one time being two hours.

Mr Mace added: “We just didn’t let anyone of us down, we had such a good team spirit.”

Along the way, the group passed through Dorchester, stopping outside the charity’s centre in Queen Street to be greeted by some of its workers.

The challenge was the first step in The Marketing Practice’s aim to raise £17,500 for the charity by the end of the year.

Mr Mace said: “They couldn’t believe how much money we were raising and you could tell how much it meant to them.”

The centre provides intensive physiotherapy programmes for  the children and young adults with disabilities affecting their mobility, such as cerebral palsy.

The therapy provided at the centre helps the children to stand and strengthen the muscles, while also improving their cognitive ability.

The charity, which relies on donations from local people and companies, also helps families unable to afford the treatment, which costs £9,000 a year.