Four days into their marathon pedal push, the Tour de Connor cyclists have surpassed their fundraising target of £20,000 for the Friends of the Cancer Centre – hitting £25,100 and counting!
The six day cycle, which began on Tuesday June 1 and will cover 346 miles over six days, will not only raise funds for the charity but will also remember those who have died of cancer. Undertaking this mega challenge are the Rev Bill Boyce, rector of St Brigid’s, Mallusk; his curate, the Rev Andrew Ker, and parishioner Sam Cunningham.
They pushed off from St Brigid’s at 8.55am on Tuesday morning, waved on their way by parishioners and friends. The cyclists plan to stop at every single Church of Ireland parish where they will collect a list of names compiled by parishioners in memory of loved ones who have died of cancer.
During their lunch stop at St Anne's Cathedral on day one, the cyclists were given a bit of encouragement by actor Tim McGarry, a member of the Hole in the Wall gang. A friend of a tour support team member, Tim joined in a photocall outside the Cathedral, and thanks to his help, photographs of the Tour de Connor team appeared on the front pages of both the Irish News and the News Letter on Wednesday. The Irish News carried a second photo and full story on page five, and the Belfast Telegraph also carried the picture.
During the course of Tuesday the team stopped at 40 churches in Belfast and en route to Lisburn Cathedral, covering just 40 miles. Wednesday saw them making their way through Lisburn, Crumlin, Antrim and finishing the day in Ballyclare. On Thursday they left Ballyclare, and ducked in and out of churches in the Ballymena and Andrim areas, ending up in Ballymoney.
Friday sees the team continuing to wend its way around Ballymena’s many churches before heading further north to Bushmills, Coleraine and Portrush. On Saturday they will be back to Bushmills, into Ballycastle, across the sea to Rathlin, back to Ballymena, finally coming to rest in Larne.
Their last day in the saddle will be Sunday, when they will make their way back to St Brigid’s via Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey.
For Bill the sponsored cycle is emotionally as well as physically demanding, for the event has been organised in remembrance of his wife Sandra, who was just 56 when she died from cancer last year.
The ‘Tour de Connor’ will finish at St Brigid’s on Sunday June 6, the first anniversary of Sandra’s death, when the Book of Remembrance, made up of the lists collected at each parish church, will be dedicated at a Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance starting at 4pm in St Brigid’s. The preacher will be the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Alan Harper.
The cyclists are supported by a dedicated team who will roll up in advance of the group at every stop equipped with snacks, drinks and if necessary medical supplies. Spirits were high on day one, the sun was shining, and it looks like this Connor-wide venture will prove a great success.
You can follow the team’s progress on their blogspot at http://tourdeconnor.blogspot.com/
Donations to help the St Brigid’s Tour de Connor cyclists reach their target can be made in the following ways: online at www.justgiving.com/Bill-Boyce, telephone donations via calling the Friends of the Cancer Centre on 028 9069 9393, or by posting a cheque, payable to ‘Friends of the Cancer Centre’, marked on the back with ‘Tour de Connor,’ to: Friends of the Cancer Centre, Belfast City Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7AB.