St Luke's Banner, with exercise bikes and supporters

Rectory Park Welcomes #NortholttoNice Challenge

MFA cycle 943 miles "to" Nice ahead of the Women's World Cup

On the morning of 3rd June 2019, something a bit different began within the Middlesex FA Office. We were preparing for a challenge, something we hadn’t done before. Over the weekend two exercise bikes had appeared at Rectory Park.

These bikes, kindly donated to us by Everyone Active Southall, were to be used for a mammoth 943 mile bike ride, the distance between our Rectory Park home and the venue of the Lionesses first World Cup game.

You may be wondering why we took on such a challenge? With the build up to the 2019 Women’s World Cup growing ever stronger, we knew we wanted to play our part in raising the profile of such a prestigious event. We set about finding a fun way in which we could not only raise the profile of the burgeoning women’s game but also support our charity partner, St Luke’s Hospice.

With a number of ideas on the table we decided the most engaging way we could do this was to complete a charity bike ride. We worked out the distance from Middlesex FA to the Allianz Riviera and just like that #NortholttoNice was born.

Having got all the staff on board we set about filling our timetable for the week. Easy you’d think, but with diaries changing it proved a lot harder, with meetings being added here and there our landscape was constantly changing.

On Day 1 we set off at a steady pace worried that a number of gaps towards the end of the week would cause us to miss our target. Little did we expect the distance we covered over those first 16 hours, 450 miles later and we had crossed the English Channel and were almost half way there! We had 19 different riders over the first 2 days as the team came together and really went above and beyond our targeted 380 miles.

On Day 3 we continued with 19 riders taking us over the half way point and beyond. We even had time to welcome an old friend as Stuart Allen who returned to support the cause. However the pace of the previous days was clear to see as we completed just 182 miles. Although this was still an incredible effort, it was also the clearest sign the impact of the earlier hard work was having on us. During this slower day, spirits never dropped as we continued to support each other through every stint on the bike.

This was a theme that followed us into Day 4, as 13 of us travelled a further 164 miles. This took the team to within 150 miles of our destination with just 8 hours left. Knowing we had a solid target to aim for, the team were reenergised for our last day. As the day went on, everyone was cheering each other on as we came close to the end of our challenge.

Friday 7th June, Day 5 of the #NortholttoNice challenge, this was the busiest day of the lot. We had a representative of St Luke’s Hospice visit the office to support us in the cycle, even getting on the bike himself. This was by no means the end of the Rectory Park activity, with the running of a school’s girl’s football festival, to highlight the imminent Women’s World Cup. This event couldn’t have come at a better time as we were able to cross our finish line whilst being cheered on by over 200 girls as they finished their day’s football!

Over the duration of 5 gruelling work days, which even included an all staff planning meeting, we rode for a combined 63 hours, covering 943 miles, between 25 different cyclists. So far we have raised over £700 from the cycle alone, alongside our collections at County Cup Finals and other events throughout the year. As part of our journey it was important we raised the profile of this fantastic charity and the work they do.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to making our challenge so enjoyable and successful. Well done to everyone who got involved in the cycling, including staff and Laurence from the Middlesex County Youth League. Most importantly we thank you for the generous donations we have received. The money we have raised during our challenge could help fund:

  • A nurse for a whole week of expert care for the patients at a St Luke’s In-Patient Unit.
  • 2 full days of St Luke’s 24/7 helpline for patients, their families and healthcare professionals. Ensuring they receive the expert advice and support whenever they need it.
  • A full day of care for a patient at a St Luke’s Hospice In-Patient Unit.

This in itself is much more important to us than successfully riding 943 miles in 5 days.

Middlesex Team present cheque to St Luke's rep

As mentioned previously we have also been raising money through our County Cup Finals prior to this event. Meaning that this season to date we have raised a total of over £3500. With thanks to all those who have contributed over the season. We have raised enough money to fund St Luke’s 24/7 helpline for 10 days! Tim Ridgewell, the St Luke’s Hospice representative was joined by our President, John Davies, who presented him with a cheque for the £2,825.56 we had raised prior to our bike ride. Having helped us to complete our challenge Tim had this to say “Congratulations on completing the #NortholttoNice challenge! I loved seeing how the team were so involved and it was such a talking point for everyone.

If you would like to find out more about the great work St Luke’s do take a look at their website.

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