Councillor undertakes an epic west to east coast cycle challenge in aid of FitzRoy

2nd November 2018

David Ritchie West to East Cycle Challenge

Congratulations to David Ritchie, Gordon Busbridge, Andy Hipper and Derek Whatley who completed an ambitious west to east coast cycle ride in aid of FitzRoy.

The intrepid cyclists rode from St David’s in Wales on the west coast to Ness Point in Lowestoft on the east coast – a journey of over 400 miles!

David, the deputy cabinet member for adult social care at Suffolk County Council, was inspired to undertake the trip after meeting FitzRoy residents and staff at a tea party earlier this year. The tea party was hosted by one of the charity’s patrons – Clare FitzRoy – the Countess of Euston. David said he was compelled to undertake the challenge because of the sheer compassion, enthusiasm and warmth shown by the FitzRoy ambassadors.

David, aged 66 years old, persuaded his cousin Gordon Busbridge (64) and two friends Andy Hipper (49) and Derek Whatley (71) to join him on the fundraising feat. Only three years before, Derek had suffered a heart attack whilst cycling in a competitive hill climb, but he was soon back on his bike, and now an even faster cyclist than his companions.

Their journey began on 20th September. Setting off from St David’s, they endured a gruelling ride to Cwmduad, through torrential rain with gusts of up to 50mph. David said that one of the highlights of the trip was arriving at their accommodation on the first night.

David said, “We were desperate to get to where we staying as the weather had been dreadful. The final three miles were all down hill thankfully, so we went at quite a speed. We could barely see with all the rain. It was a relief to arrive. After completing the first day, I knew we’d definitely make the rest of the journey.”

With little time for the team to recover, day two involved cycling 70 miles to Llanidloes, with a climb of 4700 feet through severe weather in the Cambrian Mountains.

Feeling stiff and tired, day three saw the team reach their halfway point after a ride over 80 miles.

Day four finally offered the team some let up from the weather, as the 72 mile ride through the rolling Midlands countryside to Oakham was mostly dry and sunny and the team were warmly welcomed by David’s niece who put them up for the night.

The fifth day provided perfect cycling conditions for the team – glorious sunshine, a light wind and roads which gradually flattened out as they cycled the 82 miles through Lincolnshire, arriving in Watton.

The team made rapid progress on the sixth and final leg of the journey from Watton. Arriving at Ness Point finish line, David and his friends were overjoyed to be greeted by a party of over forty cheering friends, family and supporters, as well as FitzRoy residents and staff from the Norfolk supported living services. David described the trip as ‘life affirming’ and said:

“The enthusiasm of all four of us was unquenchable. Despite the extreme conditions, and one or two health problems, no one ever considered giving up. The help from strangers and the support we were given from friends and family was truly amazing.”

Smashing their fundraising target of £2,500, David and his friends have raised nearly £4,000 so far, via their JustGiving page and through cash donations made by the generous people they met en route. If you’d like to make a donation or find out more about their adventure, you can do so via their JustGiving page at:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-hipper1