Two friends cycle from Dewsbury to Cornwall to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research content
Two friends have cycled more than 400-miles from Dewsbury to Cornwall to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Andrew Walker and Karl Simpson recreated the route that Karl first cycled in 1980, to raise funds for the charity in memory of family members who had passed away after being diagnosed with cancer.
Andrew said: “We were thrilled to have raised more than £3000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research. We’ve both been touched by cancer and have had family members pass away far too early after being diagnosed. When we saw the donations go up and up, knowing it would go towards cancer research, it was a great feeling.”
Yorkshire Cancer Research funds world-leading research to help prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer in the region.
The two retired North Yorkshire police officers took on the challenge after Karl decided he wanted to recreate a favourite childhood memory.
Karl first cycled from Dewsbury to Newquay at the age of 14 when his brother, Paul, invited him along for the journey. Back then, the brothers were joined by their younger sister, Carolyne, and Paul’s girlfriend at the time Anita.
Karl said: “It was just such a fantastic childhood experience. I always tell everyone I meet about it, and I’ve always said ‘I’m going to do it again one of these days’.”
Paul passed away in 2021, and Anita died from breast cancer earlier this year. For Karl, fundraising in their memory was the push he needed to finally take on the challenge again.
The pair also wanted to raise funds for cancer research in Yorkshire in memory of Andrew’s wife, Clare, who passed away in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Andrew said: “She was completely healthy, and then after a visit to the hospital, she was told she had terminal breast cancer. That was my first experience with cancer, I’d never really known anyone who’d had it before then.
“When Karl suggested doing the bike ride, I said I’d do it with him, but I wanted to do it in memory of Claire and raise money for cancer research.
“We talked about it for about a year until Karl finally pinned me down to a date. I wasn’t sure it would actually happen and then he started booking accommodation.”
Once the date had been set and the accommodation booked, the two friends turned their attention to training for the big event.
Andrew said: “When we started doing some training rides, Karl turned up at my house with his bike in the boot of the car, and it was like something from the 1980s. Both of our bikes just weren’t fit for purpose, so we both ended up buying new ones.
“We did a couple of rides to try and prepare as best we could and then it all happened.”
The cycle ride started in Dewsbury, on the road where Karl grew up and started his first journey in 1980.
Karl said: “It was torrential rain, but my sister and a few old friends still came out to wave us off, which was a nice way to start the ride.”
Andrew added: “I was relying on Karl to be the navigator and after about 300 metres, we were lost. I honestly thought ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do this’.”
Despite the shaky start, they completed 85 miles on their first day and soon began to enjoy their challenge.
Quote from Karl Simpson
Karl said: “The woman who ran one of the places we stayed was brilliant. We arrived drenched from the rain and she dried our clothes, fed us, and then as we left she gave me an envelope with a donation too.”
Andrew added: “Knowing that everyone got behind us really kept us going. Each night we’d read messages that had come through on our fundraising page and they were a great boost.”
Karl and Andrew completed their ride in six days, the same length of time it had taken Karl and his family back in 1980.
Karl said: “We made it to Cornwall, and we cycled through the town centre shouting ‘we’ve just cycled from Yorkshire’ and everyone was cheering us on. We had about 20 members of my family there waiting to celebrate with us, which was a great way to finish the challenge.”
The friends are already planning another fundraising event to help continue to raise funds for vital cancer research in the region.
Andrew said: “I don’t want this to be the last fundraising thing we do, so I’m trying to persuade Karl to do something else. We’ll let the painful memories of this one recede and then we can start planning another one.”
Emma Jacob, PR Officer
Yorkshire Cancer Research