Taking part in this year's challenge rides is particularly meaningful for some of our participants
More than 20,000 participants will take part in 2023 Ford RideLondon-Essex, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, on Sunday 28 May. Each person taking on either the 100-mile, 60-mile or 30-mile challenge has their own powerful reason for doing so – but for some, the cycling event holds particular significance.
Read on for a selection of inspiring stories from some of this year’s riders.
Emma Goodson, 41, from Essex
- Charity: Tree of Hope
Colchester native Emma is taking part in her first 100-mile challenge at Ford RideLondon-Essex to raise funds to support her six-year-old son, William, so that he can experience sport independently. William has Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder which impacts the nervous system, and suffers from other health issues. Having found a passion for triking with the Wheels for All Colchester charity, Emma is fundraising so that William can continue to benefit from sporting activity and live with greater independence.
Emma and her husband Andrew are undertaking a variety of distance challenges in 2023 in a bid to go “hundreds of miles for hundreds of smiles”, and Emma is hoping that Ford RideLondon-Essex will allow her to #BeMoreWilliam. Emma views the challenge as an opportunity “to honour the amazing effort that William puts into life every day, and especially when faced with adversity”, and has already drawn from her son’s strength after undergoing major knee surgery in September 2022.
She said: “Knowing I am doing this event for him has kept me focussed on my rehabilitation post-surgery and has kept my motivation high. I can’t wait to see him on a trike!”
You can support Emma and Andrew's fundraiser here.
Paul Connolly, 52, from Bedfordshire
- Charity: The Brain Tumour Charity
This will be Paul’s fourth RideLondon, but this year’s event will pose a unique challenge as he will be cycling only a month after finishing chemotherapy. Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumour following a seizure at work just a few weeks after taking part in the 2022 edition but has continued to cycle despite the challenges posed by his treatment. Incredibly, Paul was back on the bike just two weeks after the operation to remove the tumour to help with his mental health, and he continued to cycle throughout the course of his radiotherapy and chemotherapy to “keep [his] mind strong”.
Training for 2023 Ford RideLondon-Essex has been especially challenging because of the effects of chemotherapy in reducing his strength and causing joint pain. Despite these extraordinary challenges Paul is determined to finish the 100-mile course to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity and prove that “you can do anything you set your mind to, including beating cancer!”
You can support Paul's fundraiser here.
Liz Hewitt, 67, from Suffolk
Liz uses cycling to allow her time to reflect and take a break from her emotionally and mentally challenging job as a children’s service social worker, working with exploited children. As well as helping children and young people to overcome obstacles, in her work life, Liz has overcome her own hurdles on her way to the Start Line for 2023 Ford RideLondon-Essex. Liz was knocked off her bike in June 2022 and suffered a broken pelvis, resulting in a long spell off the bike.
Despite her injury, Liz was determined to get back on the road and with the encouragement of friends and family is hoping to cross the Finish Line at Tower Bridge with a smile on her face.
Roger Ruane, 61, from Derbyshire
- Charity: Matt Hampson Foundation
Ford RideLondon-Essex will be the last of seven 100-mile bike rides that Roger has undertaken on consecutive days, beginning on Monday 22 May, to raise money for the Matt Hampson Foundation, a charity that has a special importance to him. In November 2021, Roger’s son Will suffered a serious spinal cord injury which left him paralysed below the waist and a permanent wheelchair user. Since his accident, Will has been helped tremendously by the Matt Hampson Foundation, allowing him the opportunity to take part in a variety of wheelchair sports and prepare for various long-distance, mass-participation events.
Roger will raise money for the Foundation to help them spread their ethos of “Get busy living” and their message that while the injuries suffered may be life-changing, they are not life-ending and people can go on to pursue a variety of activities.
You can support Roger's fundraiser here.
Luke Mitchell, 25, from Norfolk
- Charity: Teenage Cancer Trust
Luke and his friend Elliot are taking to the streets of London and Essex on a tandem bike to support the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust. In 2020, Luke’s partner received the devastating news that at the age of just 20, she had been diagnosed with Follicular Thyroid Cancer. In her first year of university, she underwent various operations and received Iodine treatment, before getting the all-clear eight months later. During that period, Luke and Elliot witnessed first-hand the amazing support that the Teenage Cancer Trust offered to Luke’s partner during the recovery process from cancer.
The Teenage Cancer Trust offers unique care and support, designed for and with young people. It funds specialised nurses, youth workers and hospital units in the NHS, so young people have dedicated staff and facilities to support them throughout treatment. Luke and Elliot will now undertake 2023 Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 on a tandem bicycle to raise funds for the charity.
You can support Luke's fundraiser here.
Caroline Edwards, 39, from Derbyshire
- Charity: Autism East Midlands
After completing the 2023 TCS London Marathon last month, Caroline will be facing her next challenge and first cycling event with Ford RideLondon-Essex 100. Caroline, an experienced long-distance runner who works full time in a nursing home, is cycling to raise money for her daughter who is autistic and suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition. Caroline will be cycling for Autism East Midlands, a charity that is very close to her family, and will be thinking of her family as well as the numerous others that Autism East Midlands helps to keep her going through moments of struggle.
You can support Caroline's fundraiser here.
Sammy Novick, 22, from Hertfordshire
- Charity: JDRF
Sammy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006 at the age of five. Since then, the complications and a lack of understanding of the condition has led to a long struggle with his mental health. From the age of 13, Sammy has faced many challenges in life and he now looks to give back after overcoming hurdles. With the support of his parents, Sammy has adapted to his condition and was motivated to fundraise after being inspired by his Aunt Jenny.
Sammy said: “Despite the challenges I have had, the one that will always remain with me is losing my much loved and missed Aunty Jenny when I was 16. I aim to dedicate a portion of the rest of my life to giving back. My Aunty loved volunteering and fundraising. Aunty Jenny is a big source of inspiration and motivation for me to carry on volunteering and fundraising, amongst many other areas in life.”
You can support Sammy's fundraiser here.
Rebecca Last, 34, from London
Through her everyday job as an Assistant Headteacher at a Tower Hamlets primary school, Rebecca has strived to foster activity and a love of cycling in her pupils. Rebecca is a Healthy Schools leader and an advocate for the inclusion of teaching about the effects of air pollution in classrooms. Rebecca organises various events to get pupils onto their bike, working with charity Sustrans, and hopes to continue to inspire healthy living in her school and the wider community by taking part in her first Ford RideLondon-Essex.
Andrew Carswell, 40, and Bernice Chapman-Carswell, 38, from London
- Charity: Pancreatic Cancer UK
Husband and wife Andrew and Bernice Carswell are taking part in Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 to fundraise in aid of causes close to their hearts. Andrew will be cycling to raise money for one of Ford RideLondon’s charities of the year, Alzheimer's Society, after his father received a mixed dementia diagnosis two years ago. Although his mischievous sense of humour has remained, the increasing difficulty of everyday life has inspired Andrew to raise funds for a charity that help so many in a similar situation.
Bernice is riding for Pancreatic Cancer UK, having lost her mother to the disease in 2021, and is hoping to raise awareness of the disease.
She said: “My family and I are still coming to terms with losing my mum Thessa to this awful disease in 2021. It’s unacceptable that more than half of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within three months and detection of this disease is incredibly difficult. Survival rates have improved enormously for most cancers, yet for pancreatic cancer, this is not the case.
“Pancreatic Cancer UK is dedicated to taking on this injustice using every possible means and I’m riding in this event to help the vital work that Pancreatic Cancer UK does supporting people with pancreatic cancer now, campaigning, and funding vital research to transform the future. This is so that those who face this disease receive a much earlier diagnosis, there are more targeted treatments and better understanding of the disease to support an increasingly better prognosis.”