A reformed couch potato who hopped on a bike last year and never looked back is urging Swindonians to embark on a 338-mile cycle ride to Belgium in aid of the Great Western Hospital.
After 20 years spent mostly avoiding gyms and the great outdoors, Oonagh Fitzgerald, director of workforce and education, took the New Year’s resolution to improve her fitness and to keep her resolve.
The daunting Three Cities Challenge from London to Brussels via Amsterdam in August will be her second ride for the hospital’s charity Brighter Futures.
After a successful London to Paris round journey, which several staff took part in last September, GWH decided to repeat the experience, this time inviting members of the public to test their endurance and stamina alongside employees.
Although excited to be completing another journey in aid of Brighter Futures, the prospect of covering between 60 and an intimidating 112 miles each day between August 27 and 30 was not exactly comforting, she confessed.
“I had not exercised for about 20 years when I started cycling last year. I was a couch potato. The challenge last year was 250 miles but we wanted to push ourselves this time. I’ve never done 112 miles in one day so this is going to be a big challenge for me.
“We really want the public to join us and support their local hospital. We want people who are after a big challenge in their lives to take part and get fitter. It’s fun to do as part of a group and we will be training together.”
Challengers will travel back to the UK on the Eurostar on August 31and enjoy a welcome glass of champagne of wine to mark their achievement.
GWH communications manager Kevin Mcnamara was one of the first to sign up to the Three Cities cycle.
“The challenge last year was three days while this one will last four days,” he said. “But the route will be flatter so it should be ok. We hope people will take part and help us raise money.”
Brighter Future supports the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and community healthcare and maternity services across Wiltshire.
Head of fundraising for Brighter Futures, Jen Green, added: “People don’t have to be a top cyclist to take part. They may have done cycle challenges before, or it could be the first time they have ever done something like this. The challenge is open to anyone and we hope to see as many people as possible signing up.”
Riders will need to pay a registration fee of £99 and raise a minimum of £1,500 in sponsorship.
To secure a place and find out more visit www.gwh.nhs.uk, contact Jen Green on 01793 605631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.