I’m always happy to use this little corner of cyberspace to publicise a good cause. If, like Neal and his friends (see below) you have a tale to tell, please feel free to contact me with your story. Contact info over there on the right. Over to you Neal!
“You never expect it to happen to you, do you? Normal lads, living normal lives, a traditional and typical ‘Boro’ family. Hearing the devastating news that someone you love dearly has the dreaded ‘C’, your life changes immediately. Sometimes the change is sadly for the worst but for some, thankfully, the better.
Two lives that have changed for the better are those of self-proclaimed ‘Fat Lads on Bikes‘, fundraisers Glenn Auckland and Neal Bullock, who are embarking on a massive health and fitness push before riding the 152-mile Coast-to-Coast route from Cumbria to Tyne & Wear in April 2015. Their focus will then turn from wheels to their feet as they prepare to take part in the Great North Run.
The ‘Fat Lads’ have chosen one of the less aggressive routes in terms of climbs, although it still remains a challenge. Starting in Walney Island on the Cumbrian coast, they will cycle to Kendal in the Lake District on day one; from Kendal to Barnard Castle in County Durham on day two; and finally from Barnard Castle to Sunderland on day three.
Glenn and Neal were spurred into action when Glenn’s mother and Neal’s aunt, Linda Auckland, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time within three years. The normal lives of the Auckland family were temporarily shattered. Many agonising months of gruelling treatment followed and, at times, the prognosis did not look good. Linda was admitted to Ward 14, a specialist cancer care unit at James Cook University Hospital – a small, unknown section of what is now an ever-developing part of Middlesbrough, where the love and care in the hearts of the specialist team of nurses and consultants is immeasurable. The work that these amazing individuals undertake each day for not only the patients in their care but the families affected by this horrific disease must be recognised. Without them, Linda, along with many others, would not be here today.
Ward 14 is funded by the NHS and uses charitable funding to provide items and services for the patients over and above what the NHS provides. The ward provides free TV subscriptions and holistic therapy sessions and there are ambitions to offer so much more, such as hairdressing, manicures, a make-up service and free wifi. There are also big plans to build a conservatory at the side of the ward – BUT, THEY NEED HELP!
That’s where the Fat Lads on Bikes come in. Glenn and Neal joked that maybe they could do something – “Just two fat lads on bikes raising money for charity…” And so, the Fat Lads on Bikes were born. Since that day, it has become much more than just a bike ride to raise some money; it has become a major part of their lives. They have recruited close friend Paul Sykes and Glenn’s eldest son, Glenn, and will continue to grow – anyone who would like to join them in their fundraising mission is more than welcome to get involved. And you don’t have to be fat – big hearts and a passion for helping those in need are the essentials! If you feel that this may be you, get in touch – even if you support another local cause, the Fat Lads on Bikes will hopefully be able to offer some help.
As well as the Coast-to-Coast and Great North Run, a charity golf day, a bubble football tournament and other events have all been planned over the next 12 months; for more details please visit: www.fatladsonbikes.com
The Fat Lads had originally hoped to raise a £5,000 for the ward, but are now reviewing that figure as they have already reached £2,500 without cycling or running a single mile. The golf day is almost fully booked (extra spaces might need to be made available), and the bubble football tournament is receiving similar levels of interest from the public.”