The Yorkshire friends 'cycling' from Harrogate to Monaco to raise money in memory of their loved ones

A group of friends are aiming to ‘cycle’ the distance from Harrogate to Monaco to support two causes close to their heart, in memory of loved ones. Laura Reid reports.

It is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious races in the world and whilst drivers are gearing up for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, a group of friends are preparing for their own challenge inspired by the Formula One motor racing event.

On Friday, Henry Bartle, Ollie Ward, Joe Braham and Jeremy Butterfield will cycle the distance from Harrogate to Monaco to raise money for two charities in memory of two people close to them, who were both fans of F1.

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David Brown, Ollie’s uncle, died in December last year after contracting Covid-19 and James Hindmarsh, a friend of the group, lost his life last April, a year after being diagnosed with a rare cancer.

Ready: Ollie Ward, Jeremy Butterfield and Henry Bartle are taking part in the challenge.

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“Both James and Dave loved F1 so it was only right we all ‘travelled’ to the Monaco Grand Prix this year,” Jeremy says.

“James worked in the car industry and was car obsessed. And David was lucky enough to go to Monaco a couple of times.”

In 24 hours, the group will cover 1,573km between them on a stationary bike and hope to raise £10,000.

James, from Harrogate, was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) in April 2020.

Over the following year he battled through various types of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment to try to overcome the disease, but it was sadly without success.

When he died, aged 24, his friends had been raising money to cover the costs of private treatment and decided instead to donate the funds to Sarcoma UK, a bone and soft tissue cancer charity.

They pledged to continue fundraising in his name, with Henry, Ollie and Jeremy running three marathons in three days in May last year.

Joe, who lives in Switzerland, did his own fundraising challenge too, a ski tour.

This year, half of the money from the cycling challenge will support Leeds Hospitals Charity, who will allocate it to Leeds Cancer Centre, a cause close to James’ heart as it is where he was treated.

“The money raised will go towards support and help for others fighting the same fight our best mate did so bravely,” Jeremy says.

The other half of the cash will be donated to The David Brown Foundation, set up by his family.

David spent much of his career in education, working at Harrogate College and Askham Bryan College. The foundation aims to help underprivileged children to access educational opportunities.

David, 54, had previously had cancer and was deemed to be at ‘high risk’ of becoming seriously ill from Covid.

“Dave was the most thoughtful, caring, gentle and humble human who did so much for children and teenagers across the district,” says Jeremy. “We will follow on in Dave’s footsteps.”

Both James and David also enjoyed football and ahead of the challenge, the group received a good luck video from England football manager Gareth Southgate.

“Both James and Dave never gave up in their fights and we will continue their legacies to help others fight the challenges they are facing.

“Every cycle of the bike erg they will both be with us, probably with a wry smile and a Peroni in hand. They are forever in our hearts.”

To donate to the group, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/doit4jamesanddave