Harrison O’Brien, Daniel Wanstall and Dan York are three men on a mission. They will take on an epic cycle challenge around every league football ground in London on Saturday 5 June 2021, aiming to raise £6,000 for Pilgrims Hospices.
The team work for Brakes, the Ashford-based food service supplier.
They chose to support their local hospice charity as each knows of the vital care it provides through family and friends. Dan’s mother-in-law, Anne-Marie Wells, and Harrison’s dad, Paul O’Brien, were both cared for by Pilgrims. Anne-Marie and Paul would have each celebrated their 60th birthdays on 1 and 2 June 2021 respectively, so the team’s fundraising target of £6,000 has been set to commemorate these milestone events.
I’d never been in a hospice before so I thought it would be a sad and gloomy place, but I was so wrong. The staff were excellent, the two lounges were lovely and spacious and loved ones were made to feel incredibly welcome
Dan, from Hawkinge near Folkestone, experienced Pilgrims’ care when Anne-Marie spent time in the Ashford hospice in 2018-19. He said:
“The care she received was fantastic. Whenever Ann-Marie needed anything, the staff were more than willing to assist, nothing was too much trouble. Her last Christmas was spent in the hospice; being able to sit round the table in the fantastic new family lounge, trying to treat it as a normal Christmas Day, meant a lot. We were able to shower, stay over and have hot meals. I was even allowed to work remotely at required times whilst being by my wife’s side.
“I’d never been in a hospice before so I thought it would be a sad and gloomy place, but I was so wrong. The staff were excellent, the two lounges were lovely and spacious and loved ones were made to feel incredibly welcome.
“Seeing it first-hand has made me aware of the fantastic work Pilgrims do, and I want to continue raising money for them in future.”
Harrison, from River, Dover, also shared his experience:
“My dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung and brain cancer in late January 2021. This was a huge shock to our family, it changed our lives dramatically. Pilgrims gave us such excellent support – they offered emotional and practical advice, taught us techniques related to caring for Dad and arranged equipment to make him as comfortable as possible.
“They look after the whole family’s wellbeing, just having them at the end of the phone was such a big help. Pilgrims nurses are true heroes who make sure that you don’t feel alone. They really do make a huge difference. Before my dad became ill, I wasn’t aware of the top quality care Pilgrims provide. They are a fantastic organisation and I will never forget what they’ve done for us.”
“My dad sadly passed on 11 April 2021. He felt extremely comfortable in the hospice, and I can’t thank Pilgrims enough for the care they provided. They were absolutely brilliant.
“They looked after him, fed him, washed him and made him feel as close to home as was possible – I will never forget that. Pilgrims helped our family when we really needed it; they will always have a special place in my heart.”
Pilgrims nurses are true heroes who make sure that you don’t feel alone. They really do make a huge difference.
On Saturday 5 June 2021, the team will ride to all 20 league football grounds within London, cycling an overall distance of 250km. They hope to raise vital funds for Pilgrims and increase awareness about hospice services available across east Kent.
Dan said: “We’ve chosen to support Pilgrims so they can continue their great work offering compassionate end-of-life care to patients and families. We’re really looking forward to our cycle challenge, it will be tough but so worth it.”
Harrison added: “I’ve experienced first-hand the care that Pilgrims provide. They need all the help they can get in order to continue delivering this amazing support. I simply hope that the money we raise will enable Pilgrims to offer other families the care ours received.
“Pilgrims help make that last bit of time as special as it can be, so if the money we raise helps to continue that service then that’s the least we can do for such a good cause.”
Deirdre Mewse, Community Fundraising Officer at Pilgrims, said: “It is wonderful that Harrison, Daniel and Dan are taking part in such an epic journey in aid of Pilgrims Hospices. The sights of 20 football grounds, as well as the amazing places they pass on the way, will hopefully sustain them in their 250km journey. We would like to say a huge thank you for their support and wish them strong legs and every success on the day.”
If you’ve been inspired by the team’s story and would like to fundraise for Pilgrims Hospices, click here to find out how you can get involved.