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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 Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabas House. 362 of these were cycling for Chestnut Tree House.
Sponsorship money is still coming in, but the event is on track to raise around £34,000 for Chestnut Tree House, which will cover almost five days of all our care services, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes.
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.
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.”
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.
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 Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabas 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 would like to thank everyone involved in making the event 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.”