Starter's Orders: Launch of Tour O'Booths 2021 to raise funds for Cure Leukaemia

A team of dedicated cyclists and runners launched the Tour O'Booths 2021 charity fundraiser today.

They're off - the five day 340 mile Tour O'Booths cycle ride set off from Booths head office in Ribbleton, Preston, this morning.

In total 16 cyclists joined the ride today, ready to pedal on whatever the weather, in aid of Cure Leukaemia.

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The Booths grocery store chain has set a target of £30,000, but hopes to raise much more during the tour, which will take in all 27 Booths stores in Lancashire, Cumbria Yorkshire and Cheshire and includes a stop at Manchester's Christie Hospital. The company's distribution centre and manufacturing site in Preston were also included in today's tour.

Edwin Booth (pictured centre) with the launch team for the Tour O'Booths 2021 Photo: Neil Cross

Waving the team off was Booths Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edwin Booth who said: "We gave our intrepid team of Tour o' Booths riders a good send off this morning as they prepare to cycle in all weathers to raise valuable funds for Cure Leukaemia."

He continued: "It’s great to see our colleagues and suppliers come together to support this ambitious tour, our store teams will feed them along the way with delicious Booths food! Fingers crossed for fine weather, but I think the team have quite a challenge ahead.”

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Meanwhile in support of the fundraiser there was a separate sporting endeavour with ten runners from Booths also setting off to run round Preston's Guild Wheel route today.

The Tour is an initiative created by Booths’ Chief Operating Officer Nigel Murray, who hopes that in addition to raising funds for the charity the ride will spread awareness of Cure Leukaemia's vital work in the search for a cure for blood cancer.

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Just 340 miles to go! Edwin Booth applauds the cyclists as they set off from the Booths Head Office in Ribbleton Photo: Neil Cross

Today's cycling tour was due to take in stops at Lytham, St Annes, Poulton, Garstang, Fulwood and Chorley stores.

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Tomorrow will see the cyclists visit Penwortham, Longton, Hesketh Bank, Burscough stores and the Christie Hospital Manchester, before visits to Hale Barns and Knutsford stores.

Booths' Head of Finance Damien McDonald, 47, from Longridge. planned the route. He is one of a core team of eight cyclists who will be completing the entire Tour O'Booths, but overall some 50 or 60 colleagues and participants from companies Booths works with will be taking part.

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There will be fund raising buckets for donations in Booths stores, raffles and a range of activities to support Cure Leukaemia.

On their bikes for the Tour O'Booths 2021 Photo: Neil Cross
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For Nigel and Tour team member Gary Apps, proprietor of Fleetwod based My Fish Company, the Tour O'Booths will be followed by an even bigger challenge. They will be riding the Tour de France route in July as part of a 25 person team raising funds for Cure Leukaemia. Their overall target, which will include the cash raised by Booths. is to raise £1m.

For more information about the the Tours and cyclists taking part see here .

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Cure Leukaemia

Cure Leukaemia funds research nurses and clinical roles at 12 blood cancer centres across the UK, including at The Christie, Manchester. Booths COO Nigel Murray first learned about Cure Leukaemia after being inspired by the journeys of former England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia some 18 years ago and chef and cyclist Hayden Groves.

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Geoff was given three months to live, but went into remission in 2004 after receiving a stem cell transplant from his sister Kay.

In 2017 a team of amateur cyclists, including Geoff and Hayden completed the 3 Tours Challenge, riding the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España routes all in one season to help raise funds for Cure Leukaemia.

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Hayden’s book ‘Back in the Saddle’ features 63 recipes inspired by their journey and when Nigel read it and learned about Geoff and Hayden’s achievement he wanted to stock the book in Booths.

Nigel said: “I remember watching Geoff Thomas play and I came across his story about three or four years ago. Literally five months after his final chemotherapy treatment he was riding 180 km through France and raising funds. The inner strength, focus and determination I find absolutely outstanding.”

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On the Tour de France ride Nigel will now be counting on tips and advice from Geoff Thomas who will also be cycling the route for the fifth and final time.

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