Hundreds of cyclists are joining forces with the goal of raising £100,000 for charity by pedalling their way around England’s premier league football grounds.
Tour de Football will take place in May and is the brainchild of courier business boss Darryl Claypole, 71, from Hucknall, whose son Tom, 40, is living with an aggressive brain tumour.
Together with his friends, family, and business connections Darryl has already raised £14,000 for the charity Brain Tumour Research and now he is raising the bar with this ambitious new event which will involve numerous other charities and see teams of cyclists of all ages and abilities cover a total distance of 557 miles.
Participants will take on one or more of the event stages which range from 98.7 miles to 10.9 miles as it travels from Newcastle, Darlington and Leeds on launch day, Monday 1 May, and finishes at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 14 May as the football season draws to a close.
Darryl, the managing director of City Couriers Direct in Chesterfield, which is among the event sponsors, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled Tour de Football will be making its way around the country. It will be a fabulous event that will be fun and challenging, but most importantly will raise money and awareness of this devastating disease. We’ve set a huge target, but why not? By taking part, you will be making a massive difference to people’s lives.”
In February 2021, Tom, from Swanwick in Derbyshire, suffered from constant headaches, which his GP said was migraines, but on 20 August, he had a seizure while working at City Couriers Direct. Tom had an MRI scan at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham which revealed a brain tumour.
“When we heard that, the whole family was in shock. We were absolutely devastated, and we all felt helpless,” said Darryl who will be taking part in three legs of the tour.
Consultant neurosurgeon, Dr Stuart Smith, removed a “substantial” part of Tom’s tumour. Unfortunately, the growth was an aggressive and incurable glioblastoma (GBM).
Dr Smith said: “The Tour de Football is so important for raising awareness and money. Research for finding better treatments is very expensive, so the work Brain Tumour Research does is critical to advancing that process and hopefully funding the treatments of tomorrow.
“Unfortunately, there’s still a huge amount of work that needs to be done in all aspects of brain tumour care. Sadly, particularly for the high-grade tumours, the outcomes are still very poor and life expectancy remains extremely limited, despite the best efforts of surgeons and oncologists.
“I hope that lots of people will jump on board and get involved because the Tour de Football is going to be a lot of fun and a great event for an important cause.”
Tom, dad to Shadean, 21, and Chardonnay, 18, had chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and he is now back working part-time at his dad’s business.
“Dr Smith kept me alive and I really can’t thank him enough,” said Tom. “I’m truly grateful to him and to everyone who has helped me. Funding for brain tumours is so important so I hope the Tour de Football will help raise awareness of brain tumours because not many people realise just how many are affected by this devastating disease.
“Even at his grand old age of 71, Dad still manages to surprise me by organising this huge event, he’s amazing and I’ve got so much respect for him. It should be great and I would say to anyone to get involved. It’s for such a good cause.”
In addition to the 20 premier league grounds, there will be a number of other stops at small clubs along the way and, among the highlights will be Swindon Town, where Darryl spent seven years as a professional player and MK Dons in Milton Keynes, which is home to the event’s lead charity Brain Tumour Research.
Darryl’s company, City Couriers Direct, is sponsoring the event. The complicated logistics are being provided by World Game Changers, a rapidly-growing Community Interest Company which has a mission of investing resources to enable humanity to live purposeful, prosperous and peaceful lives. Its Founding Director Paul Lowe said: “We are delighted to be involved in this ambitious project which will raise funds and awareness for a variety of different causes as well as bringing much-needed hope to thousands.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
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