Sixteen years ago Yorkshire’s former Superbike champion James Toseland took part in his first Egg Run for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Sadly, for a second year running, the event has had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Toseland, from Doncaster, is determined that the charity won’t miss out on much-needed funds.
“The charity is down £2.5m since the start of the pandemic,” says the 40-year-old, who grew up in Kiveton Park, South Yorkshire.
“But it isn’t just about the money, the Egg Run took around 10 years to establish as a brand and it is now a big part of the Sheffield calendar. But we are just hoping we will be back bigger and better in 2022.”
Instead an auction and raffle of some of Toseland’s treasured possessions – including a set of his leathers – is taking place.
“I wanted to choose things that were personal to me ut that I was prepared to live without but that would also raise plenty of money for the hospitals,” he says adding he hopes to raise in excess of £10,000 with the auction and raffle.
Toseland says when he first got involved with Sheffield Children’s Hospital, he is now a patron, he had mixed feelings.
“I remember going onto the wards and seeing all those poorly children for the first time was really hard,” he recalls. “A part of me felt I shouldn’t really be there. That it was none of my business. What on earth could I do to help these children?”
But then he got talking to a little girl whose leg was on traction.
“Being a motorcyclist I knew a thing or two about broken bones. I showed her a scar on my leg and we just got chatting and laughing.
“When I left her dad was outside the wards and he crying. I asked him what was up and he said he was just so happy as it was the first time that he had seen his daughter laugh in months.
“It made me think that maybe I could do something to help, to give a bit of respite.”
Since then Toseland has built up a close relationship with the Children’s Hospital and the Egg Run is really looked forward to by patients and staff as the Superbike champ spends time not only delivering Easter Eggs but talking to patients and staff after leading the procession of motorbikes through the city.
“It has gradually built up over the years and I think it has raised more than £70,000 but it is about more than the money, it is about raising awareness.”
The last year hasn’t been the easiest for Toseland. His marriage of eight years to singer Katie Melua broke down, although the pair are still on good terms.
The wrist injury that ended his career ten years ago still causes him considerable problems.
“I’ve had three operations in the last ten years including the removal of quite a lot of the bones which was supposed to reduce the pain, but it hasn’t worked,” says Toseland.
“It’s been very difficult living in constant pain. I haven’t been able to lift up a kettle for ten years. The problem is that the painkillers might reduce the pain but the side effects are awful. For six months after one of the operations I was on opiates for six months – I don’t ever want to take them again. I ended up in a dark place and I am a pretty determined and stubborn character who believes they can succeed if they put their mind to it, but living with constant pain does start to affect you mentally.”
He’s recently had another scan which will determine what happens next. “I could have another operation to remove some more bones or else have the wrist fused but that is really the last resort.”
He moved into a new house on the Sheffield-Derbyshire border six months ago and is looking forward to playing with his band, Toseland in the near future,
“We are recording out third album although I think it will be a while before we are playing gigs again. The type of venues we play are small and we pack them in so I can’t see that happening any time soon.”
As for motorbikes, last season Toseland helped manage a team for a friend. Looking to the future he says he is looking at possibly doing more television,
Lucy Rathbone, regional fundraising officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity said: “We are so grateful to James for his tireless support of Sheffield Children’s. Through the Egg Run he has led, which has now been going for more than 20 years, thousands of pounds has been raised to support generations of young patients and their families.
“The usual event attracts hundreds of bikers and spectators to Weston Park, with James taking the time to sign autographs, take photos and meet as many people as he can. It is not uncommon for him to spend five or six hours afterwards delivering chocolate eggs and craft kits to patients across the hospital on Easter Sunday.
“To keep everyone safe from Covid-19 we have unfortunately had to cancel the in-person event for 2020 and 2021, but James is determined to keep helping however he can. He has very generously donated lots of fantastic prizes for a raffle and auction this year, all to support our appeal to build a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. We would like to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to James and everyone who is taking part for continuing to change lives during these difficult times.”
Prizes up for grabs
Raffle tickets are £5 per ticket with the following prizes available:
First prize - James Toseland signed leathers from the World Superbikes in 2005
Second prize - Zoom call with James Toseland
Third prize - Toseland Music Package
Fourth prize - MOTO GP Book signed by James Toseland
Fifth prize - Easter hamper
Sixth prize - Giant bunny soft toy
Seventh prize - Giant Easter egg
Eighth prize - Signed Toseland CD (eight available)
The raffle will be drawn on Tuesday April 6 and winners will then be contacted by the charity.
Online auction prize: Lunch with James Toseland
For more information, visit www.tchc.org.uk/how-you-can-help/egg-run.html.
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