Nine friends have completed a 127-mile charity cycle along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, raising over £3,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of one of their mates who died from the disease at the age of just 54.
Spreading their fundraising challenge over two days on the 10th and 11th of May, the group completed the gruelling cycle from Liverpool to Leeds via Burnley in awful weather in tribute to Burnley-born Peter Clare, raising crucial funds for MND Association's Central and East Lancashire Branch.
Having known Peter from school and played football with him over the years, Brian Barker (64) was one of those who took part in the cycle. A regular fundraiser who had previously cycled the route to raise money for Macmillan nurses as well as completing the three peaks and the national three peaks on numerous occasions, Brian nevertheless said that the weather made the challenge 'horrendous'.
“We’ve all done various things before so we joined forces again," said Brian of the charity cycle. "The Friday was horrendous: it took us seven and a half hours to do the 72 miles, but all in it was about 10 hours because the rain was horrible so we just had to shelter under motorway bridges. But we did it.
"I just know that if Pete [was] watching us, he would've be hoping with all of his heart that one of us would fall in [the canal]," added Brian, who lives in Burnley but works at Penthouse Carpets in Rochdale. "It was a bit more straightforward on the Saturday; it rained for the last hour and a half but we were on a high by then and we breezed it. Then we had a quick pint in Leeds."
Spurred on by their cause, Brian said: "On Friday, we were all sheltering under a bridge at Botany Bay on the M6 and it was chucking it down and we had three hours to go. We were wet through, cold, miserable, the wind was in our faces. But we just thought ‘it’s a good cause, come on’, and that saw us through. The dignified way Pete faced up to [MND] has made a lasting impression."
Peter's wife, Frances Clare, herself now works as a volunteer for the MND Association. She said: "I am so pleased that Brian has raised so much money to help sufferers of this awful devastating disease in the Lancashire area."
Brian added: "We’ve been overwhelmed by the response; we were hoping to raise £1,000 and we’re actually just over £3,000, so that’s way beyond our highest expectations. I walk past Pete's gravestone in Burnley Cemetery most days as I walk my dog and I always talk to him and tell him how Burnley FC have fared.
"From now on, I'll also be telling him of the remarkable generosity of people who want to help fight this terrible disease, and how we have raised a few bob in his memory," he added.
To make a donation, head to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brian-barker4