Welsh cyclists begin epic journey to promote inclusive sport

19 May 2017

Tour de Cymru cyclistsA group of keen Welsh cyclists are riding a staggering 350 miles across Wales, raising money to create more sporting opportunities for disabled people.

Their so-called ‘Tour de Cymru’ cycle-ride, run by Leonard Cheshire Disability, runs from Wednesday 24 May to Sunday 28 May.

Cycling from Anglesey in the north, to Llanhennock in Gwent in the south east, the riders will call at Leonard Cheshire care homes and supported living services to meet disabled people on route.

Throughout the tour, cyclists want to raise awareness of the value of sport and social activities for disabled people.

They are aiming to raise £10,000 and all money raised will go directly to funding more inclusive sport for people that charity Leonard Cheshire Disability supports across Wales

Supporting the tour is Rio 2016 hero, Andy Lewis MBE. The gold medal winning Paralympian said:

‘I’m supporting Leonard Cheshire in their cycling challenge as I’d like many more people to be able to access sport.

‘Sport is important to me because it has given me the freedom I believe everyone should have access to.

‘Since believing in myself and taking up sport, I have achieved some great things in life.’

Riders will meet with the Leonard Cheshire residents who will be benefitting from their fundraising efforts.

Each care service will also be throwing its own cycling or sporting event during the five day ride, so that residents, staff and members of the local community can get involved in Tour de Cymru.

Many Leonard Cheshire care residents are completing their own virtual tour by cycling the 350 mile route on static bikes, which are adapted for disabled people to exercise on.

Lauren O’Neil, who is a resident at Dolywern care home in Llangollen, is one of these cyclists.

She said:

‘I think it’s important for disabled people to have access to sport. I used to be a member of the athletics team when I was in college and I miss this, so it is good to exercise more.’

Assembly Members and Ospreys rugby player Nick Smith were on hand for a tour launch party on Thursday 18 May in Cardiff. At the event, cyclists taking part in the tour spoke about their inspiration.

Ged Beaumont, a handyman from Llanhennock, said:

‘Sport should be for everyone, regardless of what disabilities they have and I feel privileged that I can help to get disabled people into sport.’

Another cyclist taking part in the tour, accountant Nick Park, said:

‘I enjoy cycling and have been very impressed by the work done at the Leonard Cheshire home in Llanhennock, so it seemed the perfect combination.

‘I am looking forward to spending five days cycling around Wales and finding out more about the various Leonard Cheshire facilities in the principality.’

Leonard Cheshire research shows as much appetite for sport and exercise among disabled people as there is in the wider population, but there are barriers to participation.

The Tour de Cymru is one of many events celebrating 100 years since the birth of the charity’s founder, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire.

The war hero and global humanitarian sadly passed away in 1992 after almost half a century of work supporting disabled people.

Continuing his legacy, the charity currently runs care services globally, and also has specific projects to widen education and employment opportunities for disabled people.

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