Over 500 Cyclists Hit The Downs To Raise Funds For Local Hospices

On Sunday 12 May, 525 people took to their bikes and cycled either 30 or 60km in the third annual Hit the Downs MTB event, organised by local hospices, St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House.

Sponsorship money is still coming in, but the event is on track to raise around £21,000 for St Barnabas House and £34,000 for Chestnut Tree House, which will cover almost five days of all care services provided by Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice and over 13 days of Day Hospice care at St Barnabas House adults’ hospice.

A range of different people took part in the event, from individuals and families riding in memory of loved ones, to keen mountain bikers and corporate teams. Riders opted for either a 30 or 60km route, which started and ended at Adur Recreation Ground in Shoreham-by-Sea. The first wave of cyclists set off at 7:15am, and started arriving back mid-morning, with the final participants crossing the finish line just before 4pm.

Chestnut Tree House

Penny Hoskins and Cherie Tooley cycled 30km for Chestnut Tree House in memory of their children, Darren and Georgia, who passed away 11 and nine years ago respectively. They are already talking about signing up for the 60km route in 2020!

Cherie said: “We used the Stars room at Chestnut Tree House when our daughter passed away. We were able to spend time there, which was just so valuable to us, and Chestnut Tree House helped with everything.” 

Penny also used the Stars bereavement suite at the House when her son, Darren passed away, and explained how Chestnut Tree House is still important to her and her family today: “11 years on, they’re still there at the end of the phone. Life does carry on, but those days are still there when we’re really missing who we’ve lost, and I know that I can still talk to somebody and visit the memory garden. Darren used to go for respite as well, which was great. We could all go there and have a rest, while still being with Darren. But also, we could disappear, knowing he was very well looked after, and spend time with his sister, which was so valuable.” 

A total of 362 people took part in Hit the Downs MTB for Chestnut Tree House. The first 30km rider back was Martin Smith, while Pete Bundy completed the 60km route in the fastest time (3 hours 47 minutes). The highest fundraisers were Team Runkle, who have raised over £2,000 between seven of them, by cycling the 30km route.

St Barnabas House

A total of 163 riders put their physical and mental endurance to the test in support of St Barnabas House.

The Tuxedo Tourists, a group of friends and family from Worthing, were the first St Barnabas House 30km riders to cross the finish line in a time of 1 hour 50 minutes.

Bryan Carter, 42 from Worthing, said: We all love mountain biking so naturally wanted to help St Barnabas raise money and have a laugh off road on our mountain bikes. We decided to dress up in our tuxedos and get muddy in our smart clothes to encourage everyone to sponsor us and together we have raised over £500 for the hospice.”

Team members pictured in Tuxedo Tourists photograph: Bryan Carter, 42, Carl Marshall, 41, Darren Prior, 42 and Ed Busson, 44, all from Worthing.

Dale Potton, 60 from Shoreham-by-Sea, decided to take on the 30km route in memory of his brother, Ron Potton, and has raised over £1,200 for St Barnabas House.

Dale said: “After losing my brother, Ron, a couple of years ago following a short battle with cancer I wanted to raise money as a small thank you to the nurses who are amazing during such a difficult and sensitive time.”

The ride was made even more meaningful for Dale and his family as just six days before the event they sadly suffered the loss of Dale’s mother in law, Diana Palmer from Shoreham-by-Sea, who was receiving care from the St Barnabas Hospice at Home team.

Dale’s wife, Sue Potton, 61, said: “I’m so proud of Dale for completing the ride today. Mum recently lost her battle with breast cancer aged 93. She had three weeks of incredible support from the Hospice at Home team and in that time we never felt alone. They are like angels. The girls always came in with their smiley faces and a shoulder to cry on and they became my friends. They allowed me to be a daughter and not a carer and that was so important. Nothing was too much for them, they always had time for all of us and would sit down and describe every single thing that was going on. They were so respectful of our home and even made friends with our dogs. Since Mum has gone, we’re still getting ongoing support from the hospice which means a lot to us as a family.”

Mark Tyler, 54 from Upper Beeding, was the highest St Barnabas House fundraiser with a total of £2,150. He completed the 60km route in memory of his mother, Angela Tyler, who was cared for by the hospice and sadly passed away on 20 April 2019. 

Lucy Brady, Events & Campaigns Fundraiser for St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House said:

“We introduced Hit the Downs MTB to our events calendar in 2017 and are delighted that it has been so successful. We had our highest number of registered riders this year and everyone seemed to really enjoy the day. It’s great to get such positive feedback about an event and we’re already looking forward to planning the next one.

“Both St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House rely heavily on the support of the local community so that they can continue to provide all their vital specialist care services, so events like Hit the Downs MTB are invaluable. 

“We’re hoping to raise around £55,000 in total and would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen. Firstly, the cyclists, but also the people who supported and sponsored them, and our amazing volunteers; as well as the companies and organisations who donated refreshments or gave up their time to offer support to the riders.”