SETTING OFF ON THE ANDREW GROUNSELL CHALLENGE

Two North East cycling enthusiasts set off from Newcastle today (Friday 25 August) to ‘kick cancer in the saddle’ and raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Maggie’s at the Freeman Hospital.

Darren Purvis and Luke Westoe with Sir Bobby’s statue at St James’ Park

Architect, Luke Westoe, and interior designer, Darren Purvis, (from Morpeth and Birtley respectively), are embarking on The Andrew Grounsell Challenge, not only climbing the famous Three Peaks – Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis – but also cycling to and from them all, too.

The nine-day challenge will see them cycle over 1,000 miles, ascend over 40,000ft by bike, and climb a further 10,000ft by foot over the Three Peaks.

Their fundraising challenge is in memory of their friend and colleague, Andrew Grounsell.

Andrew, from Newcastle, was a talented architect and father-of-two. He worked alongside Luke and Darren at digital construction and design specialists, Space Group, and died last year from bowel cancer aged just 54.

Luke and Darren wanted to do something very challenging, which would honour Andrew’s memory and support the charities which worked so closely with him and his family.

Andrew Grounsell

Darren explains why they chose the two charities, saying: “Andrew bravely fought bowel cancer for two years and during this time his family were greatly supported by Maggie’s.

“And he was due to undertake a clinical trial funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, but sadly passed away before he had the chance. That’s why we chose to support our two charities.”

Their challenge started at midday today, when the pair left the Space Group office in Benton, taking in Maggie’s at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and Sir Bobby Robson’s statue at St James’ Park, before their first gruelling 90 mile stretch south into North Yorkshire.

Day two will bring a further 130 miles in the saddle and on day three they climb their first peak, Snowdon, 1,085 metres above sea level.

Luke comments: “I’ve always cycled to work, and over the past few months at weekends I’ve spent more time riding my bike than on my feet! So, the walking is what I’m looking forward to the least.

“For several months we have been taking part in practice rides locally and have a specialist nutrition programme we’ve been following.”

On Tuesday 29 August the pair arrive in the Southern Fells of the Lake District National Park, to tackle Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain at 978 metres above sea level.

Darren and Luke just before leaving Newcastle

Darren adds: “The biggest challenge is the weather, this is the one element we can’t control. We have our bikes in perfect condition, we know the route and have trained extensively for this, so we’re just hoping the weather will be on our side.”

The third and final mountain is the highest and the most taxing part of the challenge.

Standing at 1,345 metres above sea level, Ben Nevis is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands and the pair estimate it will take them six hours to make the climb

Luke explains: “When we climb Ben Nevis we will be approaching the end of the challenge.

“It will be the toughest part of the course, however, I think it will be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying. To know we have pushed ourselves and we’re doing this for Andrew and his family will be what keeps us going.”

Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 and it has gone on to raise over £11 million to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

The work funded directly benefits cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria and plays a significant role in the international fight against the disease.

Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. says: “We’re very proud of Darren and Luke and wish them all the luck in the world as they take on this incredible challenge.

“Sir Bobby would be fascinated by the detailed planning and training it has required and we know they can’t wait to put all that preparation into action.

“Our thanks to them both and to everyone who is supporting their efforts.”

Karen Verrill, Centre Head at Maggie’s Newcastle says: “It’s thanks to amazing people like Darren and Luke that we’re here for those affected by cancer, when they need us the most.

“Maggie’s is for everyone affected by cancer, including family and friends. You can visit our beautiful building at the Freeman Hospital anytime Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.

“You can make yourself a cup of tea in our kitchen, find a quiet spot in our gardens or speak with our team of experts.

“A recent visitor survey showed that 98% of visitors said they were in a better position to be able to speak to their medical team about their treatment plan because of visiting Maggie’s.”

All being well, The Andrew Grounsell Challenge will end on Sunday 3rd September 2017 and Luke and Darren are encouraging family, friends and supporters to join them on their last leg.

• START – Newcastle
• 2 day cycle south, England into Wales
• Climb Snowdonia (Peak 1)
• 1.5 day cycle north out of Wales, into England
• Climb Scarfell in the Lake District (Peak 2)
• 2 day cycle north from England into Scotland
• Climb ‘Ben Nevis’ (Peak 3)
• Cycle east via Edinburgh
• 1 day cycle south from Edinburgh via Bamburgh and back to Newcastle

Please follow Darren and Luke’s Andrew Grounsell Challenge progress on Twitter (@AG_Challenge) and on Facebook.

To make a donation, please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/agchallenge.