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Wheels in motion for European cycle adventure in aid of Swaffham hospice




Two friends have set off on a 1,000 mile cycle tour this week to raise funds for the Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice in memory of a woman who passed away earlier this year.

Josh Ayres, 33, and Alec Payne, 25, set off from North Pickenham on Tuesday, with family members sending them off on their journey which will see them ride through six nations.

The fundraiser has already raised over £5,500 in memory of Alec's mother Sharon who died in April at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer. The hospice supported Sharon during her illness.

Setting off from North Pickenham, with a little help from Alec's family. Pictured left to right are Julia Cox (Nan), Mary Payne (Nan), Josh Ayres, Alec Payne, Lesley Baxter (aunt), Mick Payne (Dad), Lucy Younge (Jasper's partner) and Jasper Payne (Alec's brother). Pictures: Paul Marsh
Setting off from North Pickenham, with a little help from Alec's family. Pictured left to right are Julia Cox (Nan), Mary Payne (Nan), Josh Ayres, Alec Payne, Lesley Baxter (aunt), Mick Payne (Dad), Lucy Younge (Jasper's partner) and Jasper Payne (Alec's brother). Pictures: Paul Marsh

It has not been plain sailing for the pair so far with both of the cyclists in the wars at stages of the journey.

Speaking from a hotel in the Netherlands on Wednesday, Josh said he was struggling with a knee injury which meant he could hardly walk.

As a result, he intends to rest today (Thursday) whilst Josh completes a circular route from the hotel.

Alec and Josh are raising funds for the Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice who supported Alec's mother Sharon during her illness. Pictures: Paul Marsh
Alec and Josh are raising funds for the Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice who supported Alec's mother Sharon during her illness. Pictures: Paul Marsh

Alec has not been without difficulties himself. He said: "I managed to fall off my bike as I came into Amsterdam on one of the tramlines as I had a bit of a wet tyre. Two workers helped me up and someone thought I had broken my arm!"

Josh added: "It's pretty hard today and testing because my knee is struggling to bend straight so I will have to see how it goes tomorrow."

Despite their battle scars, the friends are striving to complete the challenge for a good cause and they have already been sponsored by five companies.

osh Ayres and Alec Payne setting off on their fundraising mission. Pictures: Paul Marsh
osh Ayres and Alec Payne setting off on their fundraising mission. Pictures: Paul Marsh

One of those is ECS Computers who posted their support on Tuesday. A social media post by the Lynn-based company said: "Today's the day! ECS are proud to be sponsoring Josh and Alec as they cycle 1,000 miles across Europe over 14 days for Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice Support."

Josh told the Lynn News that coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands do not appear to be as strict as in the UK, and they have been told by their hotel receptionist that they should be able to cross the border and continue their journey into Germany this week.

Josh said: "People are wearing masks in the coffee shops and there are lots of people about so I think it's quite similar to the UK but less stricter."

Six-nation cycle charity challenge. Pictured from left to right are Josh Ayres and Alec Payne at North Pickenham before setting off. Pictures: Paul Marsh
Six-nation cycle charity challenge. Pictured from left to right are Josh Ayres and Alec Payne at North Pickenham before setting off. Pictures: Paul Marsh

The fundraisers have been able to ride on the bicycle highways which run parallel to the highways.

Josh said: "People ride scooters and mopeds along them but it just works so well."

To donate to their fundraising page in aid of the Swaffam and Litcham Home Hospice, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/TeamAJ. Sharon Payne has been described as the "life and soul" of Swaffham Cricket Club and she worked at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

She was initially diagnosed with Mesothelioma in 1998 and had been in and out of hospital in the months leading to her passing in April. She leaves behind her two sons Jasper and Alec, and husband Michael.



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