A particularly blustery day swept over 120 cyclists along the Divas on Wheels cycle challenge on Sunday 11 August. Pilgrims Hospices anticipate the event will raise over £9,000, which will provide 450 hours of specialist end-of-life care to people who need their care in east Kent. Although the riders experienced a lot of wind out on the route, it didn’t hold them back and the enjoyment of the day overrode the wind that they were fighting.
This popular event has raised thousands of pounds for important hospice care over the years. This year a range of riders took part, from seasoned cyclists who are regular faces at Divas to brand-new participants who were taking part as their first challenge ride!
The energy and enthusiasm of the riders was quite exciting as they prepared to set off from The Independent Pedaler on Highland Court Farm in Bridge near Canterbury. Cyclists were undertaking either a 25-mile or 50-mile route through the beautiful Kent countryside to raise valuable funds for hospice care.
Riders were welcomed at rest and refreshment stops at Lord Whisky, Shepherdswell Village Hall and Wingham, where Pilgrims volunteers were ready with a well-deserved cake, nibbles, sweets, and all-important water. Those taking part were returning from 12:30pm with overwhelmingly positive feedback for the organisers about the route and the event.
Richard Davis, Pilgrims Hospices Chair of Trustees, attended to support the event and cheer on the riders at the start line and to learn about why they were taking part. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress also attended to say thank you to the cyclists and to give them their medals.
The day was an absolute success and it’s always lovely to speak to cyclists and hear why they’ve chosen to take part in our event.
Lydia Todd, Pilgrims Hospices
Lydia Todd, Pilgrims Challenge Events Fundraiser, said: “The day was an absolute success and it’s always lovely to speak to cyclists and hear why they’ve chosen to take part in our event and what’s inspired them to get involved in such a challenge.
“Although the day was windy this didn’t stop our riders enjoying a day, exploring the beautiful east Kent countryside on their bikes!
“Thank you to all of our cyclists who took part, our fantastic volunteers for generously donating their time to support the event and of course to our sponsors E-Flow Cycles who allow more of the money raised to go directly into hospice care, and thanks also to The Independent Pedaler for kindly donating us the space for our event HQ.”
Each year, Pilgrims offers care and comfort to more than 2,500 people who are coping with an illness that cannot be cured.
5th August 2019
Sarah is all set for her Divas ride
Pilgrims Hospices Divas on Wheels cycle ride takes place on Sunday 11 August. Riders will set off into the beautiful Kent countryside from The Independent Pedaler in Bridge to raise funds for local hospice care. Cycling through quiet country lanes with refreshment stops along the way, riders can take on a 25- or 50-mile cycle before returning to a special ‘Divas Village’ for refreshments and the reward of a participants medal.
Sarah Jeffreys from Broadstairs is taking part for the first time this year and has signed up for the 50-mile cycle. She is supporting the local charity in memory of her father-in-law Roger Seward and uncle Martin Duff who were cared for at the hospices.
Sarah is a Social Worker for Canterbury and Coastal Adult Social Care supporting older people and people who have physical disabilities. She told us: “I used to be a regular cyclist and I have previously completed some long-distance challenges, however, over the past few years I have significantly neglected my fitness, choosing instead to focus on studying for a degree. Now I’ve decided to get my fitness back, and I wanted a challenge so Divas on Wheels is perfect. The event gives me something to train towards and I get to spread the word about Pilgrims Hospices charity at the same time!
“I have roped my friend Claire Wills into signing up for the short course as well. At events like this, it doesn’t matter if you join as a single rider because you always have plenty of people to talk to and ride with around the whole course.”
Sarah shared some of her thoughts on Pilgrims Hospices services:
“One thing stands out for me was when a Pilgrims nurse came to our home at a point when nobody knew what to do, I was scared and I wanted to feel like I could do something to help. The nurse explained that it is a natural feeling and suggested some small tasks I could do to feel better. I really feel like this was a turning point for me personally because I felt after that I could be honest that I was scared and that I didn’t know what to do with myself. The way that the nurses gave care to Roger preserved his dignity to the end and they upheld his wish to stay at home with his family by his side. Thank you so much to all at Pilgrims Hospices, that was very important to him.
This charity touches the lives of so many people, they do not judge they just give a warm welcome and unconditional care and support no matter if you’re a younger adult or an older person. Pilgrims is not just about end of life care, although that has proved so important to my loved ones.
“In May this year my uncle Martin Duff felt ill and his hands were constricting. He was admitted to hospital and he was then told he had end-stage terminal cancer. He had no idea he was so ill before that admission and nobody had any idea that he was seriously ill. He was given a bed at Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury where staff continued to have a laugh with him and ensure he had choice and dignity for his last few weeks. He passed away peacefully with his daughter by his side at the hospice. He was only 56.
“This charity touches the lives of so many people, they do not judge they just give a warm welcome and unconditional care and support no matter if you’re a younger adult or an older person. Pilgrims is not just about end of life care, although that has proved so important to my loved ones. They also offer people support groups, pain clinics, emotional resilience, and fun activities for socialising.”
Sarah has chosen not to fundraise for this event but to make a personal donation: “My friends and family members have very generously sponsored me and my partner Matt Seward on multiple charity events over the past couple of years. Matt took part in the TransAtlantic Way Challenge cycle in June this year and raised almost £3,500 for Pilgrims Hospices. We wish to thank everyone who has helped us to raise important funds for the charity.”
The family is planning their continued support for Pilgrims Hospices by taking part in the Thanet 5k Colour Run on Sunday 20 October.
Each year Pilgrims supports hundreds of local people coping with a life-limiting illness and their families. The charity offers a range of services: from end of life care given on its wards to its Wellbeing Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.
26th July 2019
Kitty joins Divas on Wheels to get more women and girls cycling
Kitty Tompsett from Hawkhurst loves to keep fit by running and cycling. Her popular Instagram account @kate.runs.rides is an inspiring insight into her active lifestyle, and she is a firm advocate of body positivity.
Kitty is taking part in Divas on Wheels for Pilgrims Hospices on Sunday 11 August. She shares how she got into cycling and why it’s so important to encourage women to ride.
How and why did you begin cycling?
I have always been the runner and my husband the cyclist, but when my daughter began wanting to ride I decided I would buy a cheap mountain bike for family rides. I soon found a love for it and began mountain biking as well as running, just for myself, spending time in the forest being active.
How did you build up confidence in cycling and riding on the road?
After completing two marathons I was looking for a new challenge. I loved mountain biking but road cycling scared me – I told a friend I would never do a road sportive because I was too nervous riding on the roads. In that moment, I knew I had to do one. Over the past few years I’ve promised myself I would do things that scare me, that I don’t think I can do. This was definitely one of them! So, I applied for Ride London 46 and got a road bike. Sadly, I couldn’t take part as I had surgery for endometriosis at the same time.
Still determined for a challenge I applied, and got a place in, the Ride London 100 ballot. This meant I had to push myself to do things like riding on my own, on busy roads and with clips, and riding distances I didn’t think were possible for me to complete. Each time I’ve achieved one it’s added a little more to my confidence. Without having the event to train for, I don’t think I would have tried some of these things and I would still feel nervous about them.
What are your top tips for anyone taking part in Divas on Wheels?
You don’t have to ride clipped in.
Padded shorts are a must (and Body Glide helps!)
Wear what you’re comfortable in; Lycra is great but it’s not necessary.
Ride the mile you are in.
Find like-minded people to ride with, it will add to the fun.
Why do you think it’s important to get more women cycling?
Cycling, especially road cycling, is still one of the more gender separated sports.
It is so important to encourage women into cycling because that’s how change happens; from within, from the grassroots. As women we often don’t take time for ourselves. Cycling is a great chance to take that time; to be sociable, to achieve and maintain a healthy body and mind and to show that we are as capable as men in the sport.
Lynne Digby from Ashford will be riding the Divas on Wheels cycling event on Sunday 11 August for Pilgrims Hospices to support end of life care in east Kent.
She took up cycling earlier this year and has taken part in cycling events to support charities, which have included Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge and the London to Brighton Bike Ride.
Lynne is a social worker for Pilgrims Hospices and said: “I decided to get into cycling to improve my fitness level. I took on Pilgrims Cycle Challenge in May with my daughter Chloe and really enjoyed it.
“This time my sister Julie is coming with me to ride Divas on Wheels, she’s also new to cycling. We’re planning to take part in the training rides to boost our confidence and familiarise ourselves with some of the route.
“We’re cycling the 50km route; it looks really pretty and runs through some amazing countryside, we can’t wait.”
For me, supporting people at such difficult times is vital and very rewarding. Working at Pilgrims, I’m able to see the true value of social work.
Lynne has been part of the Pilgrims team for two years and supports patients and families to cope with problems within their everyday lives.
“When I joined the charity, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect at Pilgrims. I’m part of a truly amazing team of colleagues and, for me, supporting people at such difficult times is vital and very rewarding. Working at Pilgrims I’m able to see the true value of social work.” Lynne explained.
“I love cycling, it really helps me to relax in mind and body. I always feel so energised when I’ve completed a challenge, especially knowing that it has contributed in supporting charities continue their good work.
“I think my best advice to fellow cyclists taking part in Divas on Wheels would be; get involved with some of the supported training rides. It helps build confidence and it’s great to be with other cyclists sharing the experience.”
Lydia Todd, Pilgrims Fundraising Officer, said: “Since 2013 the Divas ride has raised more than £84,000 for hospice care within the community. Lynne is a brilliant supporter and colleague – we are busy recruiting more of our staff to join in with the ride.
“If we can raise an additional £15,500 this year we could achieve a magic £100,000 since the event’s conception six years ago.”
Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,400 people in east Kent coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.
19th June 2019
Local athlete Victoria Stears inspires new and novice cyclists to get on their bikes for hospice care
Victoria Stears from Herne Bay is a keen runner, sea-swimmer and road cyclist. As an ASICS FrontRunner, she is part of a global community that inspires people all over the world through a passion for fitness. Victoria will take part in Divas on Wheels, Kent’s only women’s cycle ride, for Pilgrims Hospices on Sunday 11 August.
Here, Victoria shares what she loves about cycling and why local ladies should get on their bikes and join her at Divas on Wheels this summer.
What are your top three tips for new or novice cyclists taking part in Divas on Wheels?
1. Eat and hydrate little and often. Sometimes, the fun (or fear!) you experience when cycling means you forget to take in fuel whilst on the bike and you only realise when it’s too late. Running out of energy when cycling is called ‘bonking’, and if you reach that stage there’s little you can do to regain energy to complete the ride. You’re in control of this, so it’s important to put some thought into what food works for you on the bike. I often cut a bagel with almond butter into small pieces and put it in my jersey pocket or use sachets of sweet baby food during a triathlon (it’s nicer than it sounds!)
2. Use your gears. Make sure you adjust your gears when cycling uphill (low gear) and also when cycling on a flat stretch (higher gear). Your legs will thank you if you get it right, and this should be an enjoyable ride where it’s all about maximising your energy availability whilst keeping a smile on your face. Don’t fall into the trap of keeping in a low gear for the entirety of the ride – your legs will end up worn out from pedalling too much!
3. Don’t forget to take in your surroundings and enjoy the ride. Cycling in the beautiful Kent countryside with a great group of likeminded people is a privilege and a joy – stay in the moment and appreciate the experience. We’re lucky to be able to do this for fun!
What’s the best thing about cycling?
The ability to turn every ride into an adventure. I actually really enjoy cycling on my own. I like to take myself off into the countryside or along the coast on a summer’s evening and explore new locations, like pretty villages or an ice cream parlour I haven’t visited before. Cycling is such a great way of exploring new places whilst keeping healthy and reducing your impact on the environment. It’s a win-win situation.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of taking part in Divas on Wheels but isn’t sure they feel confident enough to ride?
Don’t overthink things; be a yes person and just sign up. It may feel daunting beforehand, especially if you’re not overly confident on a bike, but trust me, there will be plenty of people who feel the same. I have never felt more supported and included than I do when I turn up to a sporting event. We want to see greater participation in sport and so we will always welcome newbies with open arms and make sure they feel safe, especially on the roads.
My biggest tip would be to remember that you deserve to be on the road, too. You have a right to be there, so own your space and don’t cycle in the gutter. Be proud in the road and cycle two abreast if that makes you feel safer, as it is legal for two riders to cycle side by side and this actually forces cars to overtake properly. There will be plenty of experienced cyclists around who will also be there to give you moral and physical support and no cyclist will be left behind. Also, make sure you’re as physically comfortable as possible – that means investing in a pair of padded shorts, because if you’re focusing on the discomfort you feel when on your bike it will affect your mood and your confidence will suffer. These things are all within our control, so it’s worth getting them right.
Pilgrims Hospices popular ladies cycle will return on Sunday 24 June riding from a brand-new venue, The Independent Pedaler in Bridge near Canterbury.
Last year the Divas on Wheels charity cycle ride raised over £19,000. Pilgrims fundraising team hope even more cyclists will take part this year and raise more vital funds to provide important services for patients, families and friends who require specialist care and support.
Lydia Todd, Pilgrims Community Fundraising Officer, said: “I’m very excited about this event, the route is absolutely beautiful with lots of support along the way and plenty of pampering afterwards back at the Divas Village.
“You can even visit The Independent Pedaler for a pre-ride safety check.”
Cyclists can choose to ride either a 25-mile or 50-mile route through the countryside. If you’re new to cycling have no fear, dozens of Pilgrims Bike Heroes will join you, leading small groups or offering roadside repairs to anyone who needs it.
This year’s Divas on Wheels ride is encouraging riders on electric bikes to join the 100s of riders already registered for this female friendly ride. Sarah Treadwell and Elaine Wickham from E-Flow Cycles, electric bicycles specialists in Wealden Forest, are generously sponsoring the event for the second year, along with Pink Lady Apples and The Independent Pedaler, a cycling café that is providing the new venue for registration, start and finish and will be the home of the popular Divas Village for cyclists to relax and enjoy some pampering after the ride.
Sarah said: “We have around 30 riders from the E-Flow Riders Club who will be taking part with the regular cycles and hope for even more to join us. We’ve been selling electric bikes for two years now and have customers who have returned to cycling after years out of the saddle. It’s not an excuse for an easy ride, it’s an opportunity to take part in activities that perhaps you’ve not felt capable of previously. You can pick the level of effort you wish to put in and or just help with some extra pedal power on the rises.
“It’s brilliant for commuting; we also promote e-cycling to those who are less mobile. From post-op knee and hip rehab, to weight, health, age and fitness limitations, the electric assistance makes exercise achievable for everyone. E-bikes have revolutionised the way people think about cycling.”
Sarah and Elaine will also be part of the Pilgrims Bike Heroes team supporting riders along the journey.
The pair have raised over £6,000 for Pilgrims Hospices care over the year, which has included a cost to cost ride. “I feel strongly about supporting the care that Pilgrims provide; my nan was cared for in the Canterbury hospice some years ago. Our family have first-hand experience of the wonderful treatment she received as well as the aftercare my mum received at a point when she was most fragile and needed their support.
I feel strongly about supporting the care that Pilgrims provide.
Last October, the E-Flow Cycles Club e-biked across the country, from Whitehaven to Tynemouth, through the Lake District and Pennines. They also climbed and descended Snowdon and visited various bike parks across the country. This year they are riding in Morzine, Les Gets and Les Arcs in the Alps.
Be part of this Pilgrims Hospices cycling event and help raise money for the next family who needs our care. Together, you can make a difference.
Each year Pilgrims supports hundreds of local people coping with a life limiting illness and their families. The charity offers a range of services: from end of life care given on its wards, to its Wellbeing and Social Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.