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Praise for pedallers

SAINTS star Piers Francis has poured praise on those pedallers who ignored the rain and turned out in force last autumn for the county’s favourite annual bike ride, Cycle4Cynthia, as he helped launch the event for 2019.

The centre, who is a passionate cyclist himself, was on hand at Franklin’s Gardens last month to pay tribute to the hundreds of riders who, despite the miserable weather at Althorp last September, took to two wheels and whose remarkable efforts have added a further, impressive £65,000 to the coffers of Northamptonshire’s Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

Among them was Jessica Pilkington, who led a team of 17 cyclists in memory of her son Harry Chadwick, who was just 19 when he passed away last March. Having been given the opportunity to meet others with cancer as a patient at the day hospice for the year before he died, Harry’s last days were spent at home and it was in enabling that move to familiar surroundings for which Jessica says she couldn’t thank Cynthia Spencer and its Hospice at Home Team enough.

Jessica said: “My sister had lived out her final days at the hospice, where we all experienced the wonderful care of the entire staff, but that Harry was able to die at home, surrounded by his family, was an incredible gift.

“So although last year’s ride was only six months afterwards, we knew we just had to ride as we wanted to show our immense gratitude in the best possible way – by raising money and ensuring that others have access to such amazing support should they sadly ever need it.”

Indeed, Team Harry’s generous donation of £2,600 – taking the total raised in the 15-year history of the event to almost £600k – ultimately saw Piers award Jessica the Chairman’s Cup, a trophy which is given to someone whose special efforts represent the ‘spirit of the ride’.

Piers also presented the other 2018 trophies, including that for most money raised by an individual, which went to Gary Denton for collecting over £500; to the biggest team, won again by Shirefit East Northants with 52 riders, and for the best fancy dress, which went to friends Lynsey Brecani and Karen Eke whose colourful tutus and outsize sunglasses brought grins to their fellow riders’ faces, despite the weather.

Meanwhile the award for the raising the most money went for the second year running to Northampton firm and Chamber member Piroto Labelling, whose 40 cyclists raised more than £7,000, taking their two-year total to more than £22k. They were riding in memory of their colleague Laura Silk who passed away at Cynthia Spencer in 2017.

As well as the trophy presentations, led by the hospice’s fundraising manager, John Helm, guests also watched a video of highlights from last year’s ride and another demonstrating the impact of the hospice’s Wellbeing service, which allows patients and their families to achieve the best possible quality of life and live as actively as possible until they die.

The launch also provided an opportunity to thank the event’s continuing sponsors, including timber merchants and countrywear specialists, Linnell Bros Ltd, and lettings and sales and lettings agent, Chelton Brown, as well as leading commercial law firm EMW Law LLP, who are headline sponsors for the second year.

EMW Law’s CEO, Joy Vollans, revealed how lending their support so generously was the easiest decision to make: “We’re thrilled to be headline sponsors again this year for, having taken part in Cycle4Cynthia for many years, we’re keen to get back in the saddle and encourage everyone to get involved too.

“Despite the weather battling against us last year, our teams were there cheering everyone over the line, so to be able to help Cynthia Spencer raise funds for all its wonderful work, whilst doing something we enjoy, is absolutely brilliant.”

Speaking at the end of the evening, Piers commended all of those who took part in 2018, as well as the sponsors, marshals and volunteers who helped make that fifteenth ride such a success and urged anyone with two wheels to sign up for this year’s event.

“Tonight’s launch has been both emotional and inspirational and I applaud all those who have helped raise such an amazing figure to enable the Hospice to continue its outstanding work,” said Piers.

“The only thing that’s going to stop me from riding this September is if we have a fixture that day but otherwise, I shall be there to show my commitment to this most remarkable of charities and I hope there will be many hundreds more who will sign up and join me.”

Cycle4Cynthia 2019 will take place on Sunday 22 September at Holdenby House by kind permission of James and Karen Lowther, with five, 25 and 50-mile routes on offer.

For more information, including registering for the ride or for details of corporate sponsorship opportunities, visit www.cycle4cynthia.co.uk or call the hospice on 01604 21094 or email

Meanwhile, to keep up to date with the latest news on the event, or to tag photos from the launch, visit and like the ride’s and hospice’s page on Facebook.

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