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Bar manager completes cycle challenge in memory of his father

Thursday 15th April

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The money raised was split between the two charities, with £2,305 being donated to Farleigh Hospice.

Heybridge Swifts Bar Manager, Gary Perkins, cycled 306 miles in 31 days to raise money in aid of Farleigh Hospice and Alzheimer’s Society.

Gary raised £3,500 in total by completing his cycling challenge in addition to giving up alcohol during January. The money raised was split between the two charities, with £2,305 being donated to Farleigh Hospice.

Gary exceeded his original fundraising target of £500 going on to raise seven times what he had anticipated. While he may have gained lots of pounds in monetary value, he managed to lose 11 pounds in weight completing his challenge.

In a bid to kickstart his 2021 health and fitness goals, Gary made the decision to take on the bike ride as well as Dry January on New Year’s Eve 2020, with the view that it would do him good and raise money at the same time. He put out a message on social media declaring what he was going to do to generate support. Gary said: “By telling my social media followers what I was doing, I created a level of accountability to ensure I couldn’t back out if I got cold feet!” Gary went out on 2 January 2021 and got started, with no advance training, preferring instead to just “throw himself into it”.

He cycled 75 miles a week, mostly cycling four days out of seven to fit it in around his work schedule and allow for rest days. Averaging approximately 17 to 18 miles a day, Gary cycled off road along the seawall path of the Heybridge Basin through Maldon and Goldhanger.

Sadly, half way through his challenge, Gary’s father passed away after contracting COVID-19. But he carried on despite his sadness, completing the challenge in his dad’s memory with lots of encouragement from his children.

Gary said: “The last year has been a tough time for everyone, so it’s really heart-warming that people have been so kind in donating to my challenge during a time when every penny counts. I am thrilled to bits to have exceeded my original fundraising target.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported me, especially to everyone connected to the Heybridge Swifts Football Club for their generosity and encouragement. As a family club, we hold high importance on doing things for the community and for charity. We try wherever we can, to support local businesses and local causes.

“Farleigh Hospice is a local cause close to people’s hearts, they have helped friends of mine and I really appreciate what they do for people affected by life-limiting illness and bereavement. Supporting local charities is of great importance to me personally. I enjoy a challenge and if I set myself a task, I will do it no matter what - I’m very single minded once I’ve made my mind up!

“When my dad passed away, I wasn’t sure at first if I could carry on and complete my challenge, but my children persuaded me to continue in his memory. My dad would be really proud that I did it and I am sure that he was cheering me on from ‘upstairs’. Lots of people have asked me what the next challenge will be, but I haven’t got anything in mind at the moment. I’m sure once we get the club reopened again, more fundraising ideas will come to me!”

Gary donated a portion of the money raised to the Alzheimer’s Society because his father had suffered with dementia and Parkinson’s and Gary also sadly lost his mother-in law in April 2020 to dementia.

Gary has kept up his cycling since the challenge to maintain the fitness levels he achieved by completing the 306 miles. He now goes out cycling once or twice a week and enjoys getting outside in the fresh air.

Farleigh Hospice Fundraising Manager Debbie de Boltz said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to Gary at the loss of his father. We are tremendously grateful to him for continuing his fundraising efforts while going through such a difficult time. Every penny raised will go towards ensuring our care teams can continue to help local people affected by any illness that is considered life-limiting as well as offering vital support to their families.”

Gary’s Just Giving page is still open, so if you’d like to donate visit

If you’d like to take on your own challenge visit to find how you can start fundraising for Farleigh Hospice.