Three intrepid Care UK senior executives – Chief Executive of residential care, Andrew Knight, Marketing Director, Jacqui White and Strategic Programme Director, Tony Weedon have covered the 800 miles between our southernmost and northernmost care homes in just 15 days, raising £30,000 for three charities.
A team effort
The initiative, called ‘Ride 800’, saw the three team members visit 26 Care UK homes along the way. The three were accompanied at different stages by colleagues from the care homes and support office, as well as a two-person supported bike that residents were able to use at each stop – enabling them to get ‘back in the saddle’ after many years.
The plan was to award the bike to the home with the best welcome for the riders. Each home on the ride itinerary also themed and decorated a bike, which the riders had to judge. However, each home rolled out such a terrific welcome, producing such well decorated bikes, and doing a great job with their own fundraising for the event, that it proved too hard for the execs to choose one home. In the end, three supported bikes will now be going to different homes, plus three runner-up prizes.
Celebrating the star homes
Chandler Court in Bromsgrove won a supported bike because the residents and local nursery school children had a series of events and activities linked to the 26 locations the riders visited. This was also the theme of their decorated cycle. The cyclists were welcomed with a line of nursery school children all on their bikes. Over £1,600 was raised for Ride 800.
Tor Na Dee in Aberdeen – the final stop of the 800 mile journey laid on an amazing last day for the riders with balloon arch, a piper, dozens of school pupils and residents waving flags. There was even a medals ceremony and winner’s podium – all deserving of a supported bike.
Care UK’s five West London homes - Clara Court, Catherine Court, Larkland House, Mountbatten Grange and Queens Court - will share another of the supported bikes as all of them did lots of fundraising and arranged high energy welcome events for the riders, including live music, enthusiastic residents and colleagues and superb food for the hungry riders.
The team at Stanley Park in County Durham will receive a cash runner-up prize for the welcome they gave the riders, complete with brass band and a garden party attended by local councillors.
Riverside in Cheshire is also a runner-up. Here the team went ‘posh’, providing the visiting trio with a red carpet and black tie welcome. Three colleagues also got on their bikes to join the directors on the local stages, despite the pouring rain.
Our Scottish homes, including Murrayside and Lauder Lodge in Edinburgh, Wellmeadow Lodge in Glasgow and Mowat Court in Aberdeen will all receive a cash prize for the impressive team work they displayed and creative approach to welcoming the riders.
The edited highlights
Andrew, Jacqui and Tony kept a blog of each day of their ride. Here are a few of the highlights (and low points) of their trip.
Setting off from Poole
The ride kicked off at The Potteries in Poole on 2nd May, where the home team laid on a branded balloon arch plus a high energy breakfast. Six colleagues joined the directors on their first leg to Ferndown Manor. You can watch the send off here.
From there it was off through Hampshire to Surrey and stops at Whitebourne, Larkland House and Mountbatten Grange in Windsor. The cyclists were so well fed in every home they stopped at that Jacqui was seriously worried that they might be the first people to cycle 800 miles and put on weight!
Over the hills and… over some more hills
Several days in, and the riders start to feel the increasing gradients of the hills. However, the highs of the huge welcomes that they’re given at each home – along with the steadily increasing money going into their charity pot - make up for the aching legs and punctures.
By the time the trio reach Hollins Park in Macclesfield, the weather, tiredness and wheel-killing potholes mean that the chitchat is minimal. However, the towels, tea, cakes and competition bike with its inflatable versions of Jacqui, Tony and Andrew on a tandem all put the three back into good spirits.
At Abney Court in Cheadle the riders are treated to a hero’s welcome, with balloons and a 21-party-popper-salute.
Conquering the biggest hill
Day seven was the one all three riders had been dreading – an elevation climb of 4,500ft – in rain that never let up. Mill Lodge, in Bradford, emerged like a mirage, particularly with the fabulous curry lunch that the team had prepared. “None of the curries I’ve had in restaurants over the years came close to that one,” says Tony wistfully.
The (very) long and winding road
May 11th was a big day: 78 miles and more than 5,000ft of climbing. A brass band playing Super Trouper at Stanley Park and a crowd of cheering colleagues, residents and relatives restored everyone’s joie de vivre. At Ponteland Manor in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the team enjoyed a welcome afternoon tea. Whether due to a sugar rush or the enthusiasm of residents and colleagues, the team were soon launching into a singalong of Blaydon Races.
Enjoying the Scottish sunshine
On May 14th the team made it to our Edinburgh homes, enjoying a haggis breakfast at Lauder Lodge. At the foot of the Forth Bridge Tony got a puncture, forcing a mini rest but out of nowhere appeared some of the team from Murrayside, who had come to wish the directors well and wave them across the bridge. “It was the perfect lift to our spirits, especially as they came with a box of ice lollies!” says Jacqui.
The home straight
As the final home of the 800 mile journey, Tor Na Dee in Aberdeen pulled out all the stops, with its momentous piped arrival plus a truly impressive cake.
You can watch the three intrepid cyclist on their final peddle into Tor Na Dee here.
Colleagues, residents and relatives at many of our care homes, as well as colleagues from our Colchester support office, held an array of fundraising events to support Ride 800. These include sponsored static bike challenges, raffles and cake sales. Friends and family of the riders, members of the public, corporate sponsors, and Care UK suppliers and partners also dug deep to boost the amount the riders raised.
Care UK will also match fund the final amount raised, which will see the Care Workers Charity, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland sharing the total sum of £30,000.
A lasting legacy
The last word goes to Andrew Knight, CEO. He says: “This has been one of the most memorable and rewarding two weeks of my career. We’ve pushed ourselves to the limits – particularly on the days when we cycled over the Pennines and through Yorkshire in atrocious weather. As well as the fantastic sum we’ve raised, I love the idea that we’ve left behind a legacy in the shape of the supported bikes, which will give residents the opportunity to get back in the saddle.”