A 10-strong team of intrepid cyclists are gearing up for the trip of a lifetime to raise funds for the children’s ward at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The team, many of who are work-mates at Lynn-based Foster Refrigerator, are embarking on the Tour de Foster cycle race, travelling 350 miles, from Paris back to the Foster factory, all in just four days.
With some of the team new to cycling, they have had an intensive training plan to get fit for their journey, which is set to a rigid timescale.
Organised by Foster’s cycling group “Foster and Friends”, the crew includes family and friends, who are aiming to raise more than £5,000 for Rudham Ward which is responsible for acute paediatric care for children aged up to 16 from across the region.
Chris Playford, market and development director at Foster, is one of the crew taking part, along with husband and wife team Paddy and Annie Thompson, Paddy’s sister Emma Thompson (who works at Rudham Ward), Chris and Roy Faull, Stuart Howlett, Ali Logan, Ian Bromley, Kevin Piggott and the only French speaker – and new cyclist – Gemma Benlarbi.
Emma Thompson, a staff nurse at Rudham ward, said: “We all love cycling together as a group and thought that this would really challenge us. It’s been hard work to train for but we’ve all stuck at it together and I know we’ll all do it!
“That the group chose to raise money at the same time for the children’s ward where I work is amazing, it’s a great cause.”
Whereas the route won’t include the infamous “King of the Mountains” stages, it is the hills which are proving the most nerve-racking for the team.
Gemma, who works in marketing at Foster, said: “Training started four months ago but the nerves are certainly stronger as we get closer to the start date.
“We spent a weekend in The Lake District to get some hill climb practise in, as inclines are somewhat of a rarity round here - as we all know. We are also nervous about the heat slowing us down, and logistical worries such as missing the ferry, but fingers crossed we will get there!
“Hills and ferries aside, we are really excited, it will be an amazing adventure and it doesn’t seem quite so daunting doing this as a team - we all want to do the best we can for the hospital.”
The group plan to set off from Paris on Saturday, 23, finishing at the Foster plant four days later with one-man support crew, Foster Plant Four manager Paul Smith tagging alone by car, in charge of first aid, food provisions and to make sure the team get to their rest stops on time.
Laurence Morlaàs, fundraising executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said: “We are thrilled and very grateful that the Foster team decided to support our young patients in this way – what a challenge! Emma and the team on Rudham Ward work very hard to help very poorly children from across the region, so to go the extra mile – or 350 – in this way is fantastic. We can’t wait to hear how the team get on and will be waiting on the finish line to show our support”