Three teachers set off this week on a 700 mile cycle ride through Northern France with their sights on a finish along the Champs-Elysees.
All with a connection with King Ecgbert School in Dore, they are raising money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in memory of Natalie Maw, who died there at the age of 12.
Natalie is the daughter of Peter Maw, who worked at King Ecgbert’s for 15 years before moving to Wales High in Rotherham.
He is in the saddle with Hossein Yazdi, who continues to teach at the Dore school, and Ken Stainthorpe, who is taking a job at Dronfield Henry Fanshaw School.
Starting in Cherbourg, they are doing France the pretty and relatively flat way, often on dedicated cycleways, aiming to take ten days before finishing in Paris.
Peter and his wife, Karen, took Natalie for a week in Paris a few months before she died of cancer, in March 2012, the disease having returned to her lungs having been diagnosed initially in her liver.
She was reasonably fit during the visit to France, said Peter. “On the last day we walked up the Champs-Elysees.”
Cycling along the road “will bring back memories” and will be “a little emotional”, he said.
Peter said he couldn’t praise Bluebell Wood highly enough.
“When Natalie was ill, in the last seven or eight weeks, we went there for day care twice a week and they were incredible.” Natalie, who went to St Bernard’s Catholic School in Rotherham, where there is a stained glass window in her memory, died in the hospice “surrounded by love and dignity.”
Thanks are also being given to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where Natalie had chemotherapy and the Leeds hospital where she had a liver operation.
Peter, aged 48, of Rotherham, used to cycle long distances over 20 years ago, Ken, aged 42, of Bradway, is a distance runner and Hossein, aged 57, of Barlow, is an all-rounder.
They settled on a marathon cycle ride as an appropriate fundraiser and have been training since early April.
“We wanted to make it a reasonable challenge and we thought Paris was a fantastic finishing point,” said Peter.
“I am sure we are going to have a fantastic time.
“It is going to be quite an adventure.”