By Gary Smee 24/04 Updated: 24/04 14:45
ELEVEN members of Evesham Rugby Club are set to begin the challenge of a lifetime today (Friday) to remember a dear friend and raise thousands of pounds for a fantastic cause.
The group face a daunting 1,400 mile cycle from Rome to Evesham over the next fortnight as a tribute to teammate Matt Brace who died from a head injury last year at the age of just 25 after a fall at a club social event.
They are also aiming to raise a total of £20,000 for Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a mark of gratitude to staff who battled to save Matt's life in the hours after his accident.
The team will cycle an average of 100 miles a day with just one day of rest next Saturday (April 7) and they will return to a big welcome home party at the rugby club on Sunday, April 15 about 3pm.
Their route will take them through historic cities in Italy including Grosseto and Pisa before pedalling up through France and cities including Nice, Valence and Chartres.
The cyclists will then catch a ferry at Caen, travel up through the south of England and stop overnight at Culham in Oxfordshire before completing their epic journey back to their home town.
Charlie Homer, who helped organise the challenge, said it had changed many of their lives.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy but I'm not sure if some of us realised just how hard the training was going to be. Cycling 90 miles up and down hills was pretty awful at times," he said.
"All of us are now pretty anxious to get on with it and I'm sure there will be many more challenging and emotional times ahead over the next couple of weeks.
"Losing Matt affected us all deeply so we wanted to give something back to the people who tried to help him. At the moment it looks like we are going to smash our target."
Almost £18,500 has been raised so far and more than 300 donations have been made. To support the challenge log onto www.justgiving.com/AllRoadsLeadToEvesham.
The cyclists taking part are:
Tom Appleby, 29
Matt Jaques, 32
Anthony Bushell, 37
Dave Granger, 50
Charlie Homer, 26
Adam Scott, 35
Adam Huttlestone, 32
Rick Taylor , 36
Mark Williams, 34
Austin Packer, 35
Caitlin Donnahey, 18
The All Roads Lead to Evesham team would like to thank the following companies for their sponsorship and support:
Plexus Law, Burnt Tree Vehicle Rental, Schwalbe, FFEI axonex, Clif Bar, The Printed Clothing Company, Mint-Ease, Buzz Electrical Ltd, UK Loco Limited, Taylor Wimpey, County Building, High 5, The Best of Evesham, Avondale Self Storage, The Bathroom Studio, Cotswold Web Services, Liquid Mineral Services, Basepoint Evesham, County Cladding Systems Ltd, Littleton Auctions, R&L Holt, AIM Logisitics, The Bike Fetish Company, AJH Developments Limited, Evesham Observer, Tower Trophies, Spot Loggins, EVG, Matcon.
A MAJOR crackdown on dog owners who fail
VULNERABLE children across Pershore growing up in difficult
TRIBUTES have been paid to a fruit picker
ONE OF Evesham's busiest roads was left gridlocked
MORE homes than originally planned will need to be built ...
A MASS rally and march to save services at the ...