Dean reunites cycling team for new charity challenge

Former rugby international and Tigers player Dean Richards and a team of local fund-raisers are gearing up to cycle 300 miles to help a group of young disabled people from Leicestershire take part in a tall ship sailing adventure.

Dean and his team of 20 riders from the Hinckley area call themselves the Gravity Fund-raisers and are taking on a mountain bike ride in France to try to raise £50,000 money for the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

A registered charity, the trust owns and operates the only two tall ships in the world designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side as equals.

“We just want to help give young people the opportunity to have this experience,” explains Dean, “We feel inspired by the trust’s work and, although the cycle ride will be a challenge, we will be aiming to enjoy the experience while raising as much money as possible.

“Each time we organise one of these fund-raising events we aim to make it challenging, mentally and physically, but also worthwhile.

“We hope that people will support our efforts by sponsoring members of the team or attending a launch dinner we are holding in Burbage in October.”

The team wants to raise enough money to send 20 young, disabled people from Leicestershire on a tall ship voyage in August 2011.

They have already raised around £300,000 with a series of similar biking challenges since their first sponsored ride to Skegness in June 2000.

This year’s riders are: Dean Richards, Bob Bowers, Dick Frettsome, Jason Cayless, Baz Russell, Keith Wheatcroft, Colin Hood, James Grant, Pete Lovett, Paul Williams, Phil Meechan, Andy Bray, Bob Butler, Ian Bell, Neil Fletcher and Andy Cowlam.

The cycle challenge, which will take place from Sunday 5 to Sunday 12 June next year, will see them cycle from Mont Ventoux and, 300 miles later, scale the last climb of the 2010 Tour de France 14th stage at Ax Bonascre near the village of Ax Les Thermes.

Most of them are in training throughout the year but in January they will step up training runs to three times per week covering up to 50 miles at a time. From March, this will increase to four to five times per week.

The bike ride is just one part of the fund-raising efforts. With the help of Burbage event organiser Cathy Bown, they are launching their challenge on 21 October with a dinner at The Sketchley Grange Hotel in Burbage where Dean will be a guest speaker, accompanied by Tigers player George Chuter and retired Leicester and England scrum half Harry Ellis.

Tickets, priced £35, include a three course meal, and are available from Cathy Bown on 07876 500632.

Image: Dean (second from right), some of his fund-raising team and event organiser Cathy Bown visiting Rainbows in Loughborough.