Challenge will take no prisoners!
It would not be everyone’s idea of a holiday. But a prison officer is planning to spend some of his annual leave cycling the length of Britain and, as if that is not enough, climb the highest mountain of each country on the way.
Richard Ball, 36, from South Street, Leighton Buzzard, is taking on what he believes is a unique challenge in the hope of raising thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.
He will leave John O’Groats on May 14 and he plans to arrive at Lands End within 12 days.
Climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon en-route not only makes the task much harder but it also significantly increases the distance.
The father-of-three, who works as a prison officer in the PE department at HMP Bullingdon, is doing it in memory of family and friends who have or have had cancer.
His stepfather, John Oliver, 62, a retired prison governor from Leighton Buzzard – who served at several prisons, including Holloway, Wormwood Scrubs, Wakefield and The Mount, near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire – died in December after losing a brave battle with bowel cancer after it spread to his lungs.
His sister-in-law and several friends are also currently battling or have recovered from cancer.
Richard, whose children are Tyler, 13, Annalisa, five, and Kayleigh, two, is planning to carry all his own daily supplies during the trip.
He will also stay overnight in barns, youth hostels or campsites unless locals offer him a bed and he is also hoping to boost his fundraising by collecting en route.
His brother, Kev, was planning to take part in challenge but he is injured and so he will act as Richard’s support driver.
Richard said: “I have already completed the Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours. Although I am not a beginner, I am not that experienced although just cycling from one end of the country to another was not a big enough challenge!
“Throughout my life I have seen friends and loved ones battle cancer and they inspired me to do something different.
“I have known too many people who have been hit by cancer not to be grossly aware of how bad a disease it really is!
“Those who survived owe an awful lot to medical science – and that is made possible with the help of the little people like me raising vital funds for the research into cancer’s many forms”.
Richard was recently given an unexpected incentive to do some hard training when his car broke down and he faced having to cycle 27 miles to and from work each day.
His friend, Mark Drury, who is helping to organise some fundraising, said: “We believe Richard’s challenge is pretty unique – and all the more significant because of his age!”
Sarah Collins, Cancer Research UK’s area volunteer manager for Bedfordshire, said: “I am really impressed by what Richard is planning to do.
“He has been doing lots of preparation and I’m sure he is going to have an amazing experience.
“Cancer Research UK has made enormous progress in the fight against cancer and continues to do so. But it is mainly thanks to the dedication and commitment of people like Richard, without whom we would not be able to fund our vital research.”
To support Richard, who hopes to raise around £5,000 from the challenge, go to www.justgiving.com/richardball1118 or follow him on Twitter at #End2EndMadness
For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work to find out how to support the charity, call 08701 60 20 40 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.uk.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west