A WOKINGHAM man has undertaken one of the hardest fundraising challenges of all – raising more than £6,000 for the charity that helped his daughter as she recovered from life-threatening injuries.
Stan Hetherington is now recovering from cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, an epic 960-mile journey. And unusually, he carried out the entire expedition by himself.
He has been in training for months, and amazingly endured just one puncture during his trip and fell off his bike just once.
“Only my pride was hurt,” he said.
The route, which had been meticulously planned to ensure that every stage had a B&B waiting for him, saw him use A and B roads, canal and river towpaths, cycle paths and even a route that took him under the runway of Manchester Airport.
Mr Hetherington said: “I even cycled along a few places paths which were not really suitable for a touring bike.
Mr Hetherington continued: “The routes saw me go over the M5 road bridge which crosses the River Avon in Bristol and the A900 Forth Road Bridge – and the paint was in top condition.
“In the Lake District I cycled over Shap Fell which is 1,398ft above sea level, having started in Kendal which is at 164ft above sea level. A climb of 1,234ft in nine miles.
“In the Grampian Mountains I cycled over the Pass of Drumochter which is 1509ft above sea level and the highest point on the UK rail network and the highest point on my ride.
“I started at Land’s End which is 216 ft above sea level and finished in John O’Groats which is 32ft above sea level so apparently I was cycling downhill. I can assure you that it did not feel like a downhill ride.”
And Mr Hetherington, who runs the Wokingham Music Club and helped launch the Wokingham Bikeathon, added: “According to my mapping software I climbed 40,402 which is 7.65m which is the same distance as Wokingham to Reading but vertical
“I cycled through towns and cities, through forests and farmland and across open moorland. I saw every type of landscape that this country has.
“I don’t know the total distance I cycled as a few days after my battery ran out on my Garmin but Mrs Google thinks it is 960 miles which is good enough for me.”
The 13-day trek was arduous, with long days of solitude.
Mr Hetherington said: “Most days I was on the bike at 8am and off it by 6pm. My latest finish was 7.15pm and my earliest 5pm.
“I was, at various times, too hot, too cold and too wet. I don’t recall being too dry. It was very windy on occasions and as always the wind was in my face and not my back.”
But there is a serious reason behind this epic feat.
Mr Hetherington said before he set off that he wanted to raise £1,920 – £2 a mile – for the work of Headway Thames Valley, a charity that helped his daughter Faye when she had a brain injury.
Five years ago, and six months after she had started her first job after university, Faye was jogging in London when she fell and injured herself on the pavement, causing a brain injury in the process. She has now recovered and has returned to full-time work.
And last year she even managed to run the London Marathon.
Mr Hetherington said: “Her journey to today has been difficult. She was off work for two years.
“She then managed to start doing a few hours work each week from home. That built into doing a few hours a week for Topshop (thank you Topshop for being such an understanding employer).
“Those hours increased bit-by-bit until she felt able to apply for full-time work.”
And for the past 18 months, Faye has been working for marketing and intelligence agency Proximity.
“Faye managed to get to where she is today thanks to the help of a lot of people and organisations, including doctors in London, Reading and Wokingham,” Mr Hetherington added. “Family and friends all provide wonderful help and assistance but the organisation which in my view made the biggest difference was Headway Thames Valley.”
And Stan said that his friends and family rallied round to ensure he smashed his target.
“They donated and amazing £3,500 just to get me out of Wokingham for two weeks,” he joked.
“A huge thanks to The Edward Gosling Foundation who match funded the first £2,500 that was donated
“When I had the dream of doing this ride I thought I would try and raise £2 a mile, but my final total raised is looking like it will be just over £6,000 which I am amazed by.
“This simply was the best fun I have ever had while sitting down.”
Jamie Higgins, the manager of Headway Thames Valley, was hugely appreciative of Mr Hetherington’s efforts.
“He’s done incredibly well,” he said. “We couldn’t do this work without people raising funds for us and Stan has also done amazingly well at raising awareness for our work.
“People in Berkshire who have a head injury don’t always know we’re here.
“The money Stan has raised is incredibly, but the awareness is important too. We’re really grateful to him.”
To add to Mr Hetherington’s donations, log on to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stan-lejog