20 years ago I ran the London Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Relief, as their nurses had helped my mum through, and to recover from breast cancer. Last year my Dad finally succumbed to cancer after several painful years, and in his final weeks he received peerless, wonderful care from the Sue Ryder team at their Leckhampton Court Hospice in Cheltenham.
This hospice is the only facility in Gloucestershire that provides 24/7 in-patient care, as well as day services and Hospice at Home care. It's estimated that as many as 4,000 people in Gloucestershire are in need of hospice care, while Leckhampton Court has just 16 in-patient beds.
One in three people who would like to die at home surrounded by their loved ones end up dying in hospital, often with little privacy or dignity. Sue Ryder exist to help every one of us to die as we wish, to take the fear out of dying.
Helping people to have a good, dignified death takes medical expertise, round-the-clock care and huge amounts of compassion and empathy. And all that takes money; in this case £10,000 per day.
Leckhampton Court only receives 32% of its funding from the Government; the rest has to comes from donations. That's why I'm riding further than I have before. My Dad was in Leckhampton Court for 3 weeks, where they stabilised his pain and cared for him 24/7. We were able to be with him towards the end and their sensitivity and humanity was fabulous.
My fund-raising might only be a drop in the ocean of the £2.5m they need this year, but it's a start, a way I can say THANK YOU to them, and help them to continue to provide such terrific care for families in difficult times.
On 24th June I will ride the 30th anniversary edition of the Ride for Ryder Sportive. From Cheltenham I will ride 130km (80 miles) out into the Northern Cotswold hills and back again.
Then on 29th July, my Dad's Birthday, I aim to complete my first 100-mile ride around the Cotswolds from Tetbury.
Please give whatever you can, and it will fuel me on my training this Spring and on the rides themselves.