Coast to Coast Sunshine for Air Ambulance Cyclists

May 20, 2014 by Tracy

C2C Starting poiintHundreds of cyclists assembled at Watchet Harbour on the Somerset coast to take part in the 4th annual Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge on Sunday (May 18th).

Not designed as a race, the event saw cyclists of all ages and abilities set off on a ‘gruelling but gloriously sunny’ 54 mile ride to West Bay in Dorset.   Some cyclists completed a shorter, 11-mile route which began at Drimpton in Dorset and also ended at West Bay.

In total, 546 cyclists turned out on the day, many of whom reside within the two counties.  Others came from as far afield as Essex to take part in what has become an annual spectacular.  After being encouraged to pay a visit to one of the four pit stops on-route to refill their water bottles and enjoy the refreshments, the cyclists were set on their way by the Mayor of Watchet, Cllr Loretta Whetlor.

Ben WinterOf those taking part, many had experienced the work of the Air Ambulance first-hand and were delighted to be able to play their part on the day.

Ben Winter from Christchurch was airlifted to hospital after he broke his neck and back whilst out mountain biking.  Ben said, “Had the Air Ambulance not been there that day, it is extremely likely that I would now be in a wheelchair or indeed no longer alive.  I always meant to ‘give something back’ and whilst I am embarrassed to say that it has taken me almost 8 years to actually do so, now is that time.  The term ‘better late than never’ springs to mind.”

Sarah Blakemore from Chard dialled the emergency services in 2010 Sarah Blakemoreafter her 18 month old son Archie suffered burns to his leg whilst visiting Lyme Regis beach.  Archie was airlifted to the specialist burns unit at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, a journey that could have taken at least an hour and a half by road where he underwent surgery.  “The team at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance were so good to us and I had numerous dealings with the Charity afterwards.  It’s great to be able to take part in the event and have the chance to meet everyone in person,” she said.

Team entries were ever popular.  Groups of people from the emergency services, sporting clubs, businesses and family and friends, all joined together in a unified effort to raise funds.

Team o TumblersOne team cycling were ‘Team o’ Tumblers’ who represented the horse racing, eventing, hunting and farming community.  Their line-up included the recently retired National Hunt Jockey Joe Tizzard, Georgina Nicholls (wife of horse trainer Paul Nicholls), horse trainer Harry Fry, Emma Barber one of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Masters who was airlifted last year along with a whole host of others. The group had set themselves a fundraising target of £10,000 however announced at the finish that they had already exceeded that total.

Other participants took part in memory of a lovely one, or simply wanted to challenge themselves and show their support to a charity close to their hearts.Paul Dadson

Paul Dadson aged 63 from Taunton set the crowds applauding as he crossed the finishing line at West Bay.  His attire of red and white Lycra and ‘Arsenal clogs’ were definitely one of the talking points of the day.

Andrew Peters and five year old Arthur from Bridport cycled the 11 mile route from Drimpton on a tandem bike.  Arthur is the cousin of Adam Sherring who cycled the 54 mile route last year on a tricycle!  Arthur said that he loved every minute of it and the best part was coming down the hills.

Three GenerationsThree generations of the Turner family also took on the challenge!  Mike Turner (68), his son Steve Turner (47) and his grandson Ollie Turner (17) all crossed the finished line with a big smile! 

Publicity of this year’s event was heightened prior to the event with the help of eight year old Olivia Reid from Maiden Newton (pictured with Amy Fox) who appeared on the BBC Radio 2 - Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Friday 17th May.  Olivia took part in the 11 mile cycle and then helped to hand out medals at the finishing line, before reliving her excitement with Chris Evans on Monday Olivia Reid and Amy Fox(19th May), when she explained how her day had gone.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer said, “We are delighted that this year’s event was once again well supported.  We were bowled over by the fact that within three weeks of registration opening, it was sold out!

“Right from the start, back in 2011, we emphasized that was not a race but a challenge.  This year, the challenge proved a little tougher with the addition of a head wind and warm weather.  The atmosphere amongst the cyclists and those who supported them at the start, en-route and at the finishing point was simply incredible.   

“Each year we listen to the event feedback and try to build on the success of the previous year.   We have already received many kind comments but perhaps the most satisfying are those that pointed to the friendly and helpful people helping to run things. Peter Green, Volunteer

“With only a small staff, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance relies on volunteers to make events like this a success and I thank them once again for stepping up to the plate. 

“Additionally I would like to thank the members of the public, Somerset Motorcycle Group and local businesses who helped with marshalling and to the event sponsors: Bond Air Services, Framptons Transport Services Ltd, Glastonbury Spring Water, Max Davidson Optometry, Mud Sweat and Gears, Porter Dodson, Somerset Web Services and The Bicycle Chain.  

“Finally, I would like to say how much we are looking forward to doing it all again next year!”

During 2013 the Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge raised over £60,000 for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.  This year’s event has already generated £40,000 with additional sponsorship money still to come in. 

The Charity is awarding prizes to those who raise the most C2C sponsorship in the following categories: Adult, Under 16 and Team.  These will be presented during National Air Ambulance Week celebrations which take place in September.

As well as sponsorship of the cyclists, there are two other ways in which donations can be made in support of the event.  These can be made online or by mobile phone by texting: COAS04 £10 to 70070

Photographs taken by the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and Laura Zaky can be viewed and downloaded for FREE by clicking HERE!