A group of Devon men will cycle from Exeter to Ipswich later this month to raise money for the charity that supported their friend with cancer. And they’ve already smashed their original fundraising goal by 2,000%.

Paul Reed, Terry Wheatley, Steve Sandiford, Lee Cornish and former Exeter Falcons speedway star Pete Jeffery with Simon Courtney as vehicle support driver will leave Exeter on Tuesday April 26 to drive almost 300 miles to Suffolk. They ride in memory of father-of-two Mark Davis from Exeter, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and died 18 months later aged 52. Mark was a huge Ipswich Town fan. The cycling team have timed their challenge to coincide with their favorite team’s final League One game of the season against Charlton Athletic at Portman Road on Saturday April 30.

“We are a group of 50 or so people who got to know Mark through football, golf and socializing. He was such an amazing guy, who handled his terminal diagnosis so well,” Paul said. He was an exceptional person who made life easy for him and he is always on everyone’s mind.”

The group originally set their sights on raising £2,000 for FORCE Cancer Charity, but the total now stands at around £42,000 before they even get started. Sponsorship, a race night, a bingo session and a static bike ride by Mark’s partner Louise Carpenter brought the fund to £10,000. Then an anonymous donor who wanted to support a charity and heard about the bike ride added £31,000 to the pot.

“It’s phenomenal and beyond our wildest dreams,” said Paul. “It will give us extra momentum.”

The Fab Five have been training for 18 months after their initial plans were pushed back a year by Covid. The delay meant Terry, a Heavitree Brewery manager who wasn’t fit enough to join the original program, could be part of the challenge.

“That’s been one of the real positives, how it’s impacted all of our lives. None of us were really cyclists and it’s been a journey for all of us,” Paul said. our age, we should all know better.Most men with a midlife crisis buy a motorcycle.

They will start from the Heart of Oak in Pinhoe on April 26 for a first leg of 80 miles to Trowbridge. The next day is 90 miles to Aylesbury, 84 miles to Sudbury on day three, ending with a 22 mile roll to Ipswich on Friday.

“We’re just glad Mark wasn’t a Carlisle fan,” joked Paul, who will be part of a group of more than 20 friends and family of Mark’s at the Ipswich game on April 30.

During Mark’s 18 month battle with cancer, FORCE has been a constant support. He and his partner Louise used the free services offered by the charity to anyone locally affected by cancer, including complementary therapies and financial advice and help with filling out forms from Mike Watson, the consultant in FORCE-based Citizens Advice benefits.

“FORCE was amazing, so brilliant,” Louise said. “FORCE Center provides a relaxing, stress-free environment that really makes a difference in such stressful and uncertain times. It is an absolute honor to be able to raise funds for such a worthy charity and to be able to give something back that will benefit other patients and their families in the future.

The Exeter-Ipswich route has attracted sponsors for three of the four main stages. Leg 1: Sponsored by Brend Hotels, Exeter- Trowbridge (80 miles) Leg 2: Sponsored by THE PASSAGE HOUSE INN Topsham, Trowbridge- Aylesbury (90 miles) Leg 3: Sponsored by Heavitree Brewery, Aylesbury-Sudbury, (84 miles) Leg 4: Sudbury-Ipswich (22 miles).

Louise Carpenter and Mark Davis
Louise Carpenter and Mark Davis

The team is also grateful to their companies – Paul (Isca Windows), Terry (Heavitree Brewery), Steve (Davie Brothers Scaffolding), Pete (PJ Engineering), Lee (Apex Scaffolding) – for their support as well as CAP Ceilings and Partitions , who pay for accommodation, and Dartline, who bear the cost of the support vehicle. You can support the fundraising campaign on https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Simon-Courtney1

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