As many of you are aware last year my beautiful stepdaughter Stephanie lost her battle with bowel cancer and died peacefully with her Mum at her side in the early hours of 24th June.
I and her closest family were with Stephanie at The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted for the last days of her life. I was amazed by her courage and good humour in the face of the inevitable pain and suffering she would endure in those last few precious days. Thankfully she was in the wonderful care of the nurses and staff at the hospice . Their dedication and consideration made Stephanie as comfortable as possible and afforded us the chance to be with her at a time of great sadness in our lives, the support and kindness we received was invaluable.
Now we are in a New Year and I am determined to make a positive out of such tragedy . As I have very good friends who live close to the home of St Francis in Assisi - betwwen Rome and Florence - and are like me mad bikers, I decided we would undertake an epic ride from the Basilica of St Francis atop the hill in Assisi to The Hospice of St Francis atop a slightly smaller hill in Berkhamsted, total distance 2000kms circa 1250 miles. Our aim is to start on the 10th June and finish on the anniversary of Stephs death. From Assisi we will cross the Appenines then follow the Po valley to by pass Milan, through Switzerland - a few good climbs there - into France via the infamous Col d Izoard then on to St Etienne where we pick up the Loire valley and head north to Orleans , Chartres and eventually to Le Harve where will make the crossing of La Manche to Portsmouth . I am hopeful that on the last leg from the South Coast up to Berkhamsted on the weekend of the 23rd /24th June many of our cycling buddies here in UK will join in the fun either on two wheels or four for this last leg of our adventure.
Our objective is not only to commemorate Stephanie with our effort - she would definitely think we raving mad to undertake such a ride - but to raise funds for the Hospice which desperately need support to ensure the magnificent work they do continues. It is very much policy today for the terminally ill to be treated at home , my experience tells me that the facilities and expertise required to maintain the comfort of the sick and dying and to allow the family to spend those last precious days with their loved one is far better provided in a purpose built facility like the Hospice of St Francis.
We have set ourselves an ambitious target of £50,000 , a mere £25 per km , so I would ask you please to give us maximum support to help achieve this and to provide the care for the next family who are desperate for their loved one to leave this world with dignity and compassion.