London to Paris for Action Against Cancer

Posted Posted on Categories Days Fleet

Days Fleet were delighted to be able to support one of our clients in their bid to raise money by cycling from London to Paris, we played our small part with the provision of a van for the trip.

Three close friends, who have all had direct experience of someone close to them suffer from Cancer, decided to raise money by cycling from London to Paris. The only drawback – none of them have ever ridden more than a few miles on a bike before!! After extensive training (about 3 weeks!) they set off for London on Sunday 23rd July. Ahead of them lay 325 miles of English, Belgium and French roads – to be completed in 6 days. A daunting task in itself BUT, what these intrepid lads had forgotten, is that a support vehicle with replacement parts and the ability to transport their luggage would be vital to the success of the trip.

Fortunately Days Fleet were able to come to the rescue and provide the team with a VW Transporter Van for the trip. As you will see from below the Van turned out to be an ideal support vehicle for such an enterprise. All three bikes could be stored in the Van over night without removing the wheels. Also as a 5 seater the Van was very useful for transporting weary cyclists to restaurants for well-deserved evening meals!! All of the three cyclists would like to thank Days Fleet for providing such a fantastic vehicle for their adventure – without the Van the trip would have been virtually impossible.

If you would like to contribute to the fund-raising for such a worthy cause please go to the Donation site – – any amount would be gratefully received.

We have re-produced below the wording from the Donation site plus some pictures from the 6 days – and a synopsis of the London to Paris adventure!!

On the 24th July, myself (Joel Pickford), Owen Napper and Oliver Dudlyke will be cycling roughly 325 miles over 6 days, starting in London and ending in Paris. The cycle ride, planned by ourselves, will be in aid of Action Against Cancer, a charity led by a leading Oncologist Professor Justin Stebbing, supporting a cause very close to the hearts of the 3 of us.

In February 2016, Owen’s Mum Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Caught at an early stage, the operation was a success for Linda, and she was told that with the normal procedure of chemotherapy there was every chance that the cancer would not return. Chemotherapy came at a difficult time for Owen with him studying for his A2 exams, but being reassured that it was mainly precautionary helped to put his mind at rest, knowing that going through a difficult 6 month period would be worth it for the future. For Owen, this bike ride is a way of giving back to the community which helped him and his family through the last year, and to try and help towards the development of more advanced treatment to lessen the effect that cancer has on sufferers and their families.

Ollie has been fortunate enough to not have had any immediate family suffer from cancer. However, he has known of family friends that have gone through the process and really does appreciate the difficulty that it causes. Ollie knows of people that have sadly passed away and that have gone through the process of chemotherapy. He also knows that sadly, there is a high probability that someone in his family will be affected in his lifetime. Therefore, Ollie is very keen to take part in the bike ride to raise money for Action Against Cancer.

In June of 2015, my mum Laura Richardson was diagnosed with secondary liver cancer, which had originally spread from her colon. She was operated on in August of that year. The cancer in her colon was removed, but the cancer on her liver was inoperable as it covered the whole liver in little nodules. The cancer was terminal. She was given 2 ½ years to live.

It was after this news that she went to see Professor Stebbing for the first time for a second opinion, and to monitor her while she had her NHS prescribed chemotherapy. Mum reacted well to start off with, with the nodules of cancer on her liver shrinking with two sets of sessions on chemotherapy through to January 2016. But the chemotherapy had taken its toll on her immune system, and she got a liver infection. It was here that the NHS said that they could do no more for her, as the chemotherapy would cause great damage to her liver, and any treatment of the infection would take too long meaning that the cancer would grow. They could not treat both at the same time.

In May she was told by the NHS that they could do no more for her, and that she didn’t have long left. It was only thanks to Professor Stebbing that he took her on, and was willing to treat both the cancer and infection at the same time, giving her a chance to survive. She was then admitted to the Wellington Hospital in London (where we are starting our bike ride) where she stayed for 6 weeks.

But mums cancer was very aggressive, and kept on growing. The time that she had the infection meant that the cancer was able to entrench itself, and nothing more could be done. The decision was made to bring mum home on the 21st of June. She was able to spend her last days in the home she had always dreamed of and passed away on the 25th of July 2016 at 4:00 am, with Andy, Saffie and I by her side. It’s indescribable for me to say what it’s like to lose my Mum, I guess it’ll be a feeling of loss unparalleled by anything else. She was a mum that was always there, from times when it was just her and I. She was able to carry me through the most important time of my life and saw me through to my A-levels, and it’s hard knowing that I will not be able to say thank you, and for her not to see me graduate, get married and have kids, which she told me was all she wanted to see in my life and the things I wanted to share with her.

So, on a personal level, this bike ride is a way of remembering her and who she was for me, as the most important person to ever be in my life. It is also to raise money to help Action Against Cancer. The charity is at the fore-front of cancer breakthroughs, and was set up by one of the leading oncologists on the planet. The money raised will help the team there to come up with new breakthroughs and new cancer treatments less severe than the radiotherapy and chemotherapy used at the moment. My hope is that this bike ride raises money to help the charity develop these treatments so that no-one has to ever experience what cancer is really like, and the heartbreak felt by not just me, but my mum, my family, and especially Andy who lost the love of his life.

I owe thanks to the Professor, as he was willing to help my mum, even when everybody else had given up on her. Acts like that prove that there are people out there willing to help those who so desperately need it. Even though he didn’t manage to save her, he gave it his all, which means the world to me and my family. So this bike ride is to say thanks to professor Stebbing and his team for all of their work and to help them continue to make breakthroughs, to hopefully one day find a cure.  As we will be in Ypres on the 25th of July, there will be no better place to remember her and those also who lost their lives too young.

From the 3 of us, thank you for reading, and if you are able to support us with a donation of any amount we would be eternally, extremely grateful :). Thank you x

The Route

Day 1 – London to Ashford, 61.72 miles

Day 2 – Calais to Ypres, 55.94 miles

Day 3 – Ypres to Arras, 50.78 miles

Day 4 – Arras to Amiens, 50.93 miles

Day 5 – Amiens to Clermont, 48.51 miles

Day 6 – Clermont to Paris, 49.26 miles



Synopsis of the Trip

So did everything go smoothly?? Well not quite!! Everything started off well with the intrepid cyclists managing to navigate their way out of London and onto the rural Kent roads. Unfortunately Owen developed a weird nervous desire to continually look over his left shoulder behind him. Somewhere in deepest Kent, as he looked over his shoulder he rode straight into a ditch!! Puncture Number 1! Fortunately this happened right next to a grand looking property together with, most importantly, a large double garage. The owners invited them in out of the rain and they started to work on Owen’s puncture – well Ollie & Joel did – Owen just stared at the two vintage Ferraris in the garage!!! Back on the road they managed to make it to Ashford in reasonably quick time – that was Day 1 complete!

After a good nights’ sleep and a quick Eurotunnel trip the ride was on French soil! Time for mountainous roads like the Tour De France – well not exactly – Northern France & Belgium is pretty flat to be honest so the lads made really quick time. However, once again whilst looking over his shoulder Owen hit a parked car! At the same time Joel swerved and hit Owen – both went tumbling to the ground complete with scratches and bruises! Even worse Joel had a puncture – yes Puncture Number 2! There was no time to waste as the lads were due in Ypres for 7.30pm to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate in honour of the RAF and Joel’s mother (it was 1 year to the day that Joel’s mother sadly passed away). The Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate was very moving – and the lads looked excellent in their ‘Action Against Cancer’ T-shirts. The below video shows the lads taking the Wreath up to the Memorial steps during the ceremony (in front of approximately 1,000 people!!).

Day 3 started with another puncture! Ollie discovered that his rear tyre had deflated during the night. Puncture Number 3! Day 3 was also memorable for Ollie starting off without his Helmet – fortunately Joel spotted this and rode back to collect it. Crossing the border back into France the lads weaved their way along country lanes. Owen was now learning NOT to look over his shoulder and the day passed uneventfully. They were beginning to get the hang of things and arrived in Arras in good time.

Day 4 started overcast but they were now half way to Paris. As they travelled between small villages they stopped to look at World War 1 Cemeteries in the Somme Region with rows and rows of Head Stones. It suddenly brought home to them the futility of War and how thousands of young men had sacrificed their lives for King and Country. It somehow made what they were doing even more poignant – raising money to help conquer Cancer – helping people to live rather than die. During mid-afternoon, bored of country lanes with little traffic, they decided having a go on a main route into Amiens was a better option – Umm good option!! As Juggernaut Lorries screamed past and giant sweeping hills propelled them at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour it suddenly didn’t seem such a good idea! It did however mean that they arrived in Amiens before the Support Team in the Van – the first and last time! A good night out in Amiens with live entertainment and bursting pubs & restaurants left them in good spirits for the last two days.

Day 5 was fairly quiet – it had now become a test of mental strength rather than physical endurance. All 3 cyclists were surprised that they didn’t ache all over and indeed their legs still appeared to be attached to their bodies! Another day without crashes and punctures the finishing line was definitely in sight! As they arrived in Clermont they decided to purchase some cheap Champagne to celebrate at the Arc de Triomphe – and when we say cheap we mean cheap – 1.30 Euros per bottle!! Vintage! The Support team now had the loading and unloading of the bikes off to a tee – almost like a well drilled Formula 1 Pit Stop Team! Bikes cleaned, oiled and loaded in minutes – SKY, eat your heart out!!

The following day everyone was set for the assault on Paris – approximately 50 miles of steady cycling, ending with rapturous triumphant applause as they reached the Arc de Triomphe – well that was the plan. The Support Team went on ahead to find a parking space in Paris – and more importantly to drive around the Arc de Triomphe to experience one of the most frightening roundabouts in the world – actually we did it 3 times because it was so much fun! It was the first time we had ever approached a roundabout to hear the Sat-Nav say ‘Please leave at the 8th exit’!!! Parked up and ready to greet the hero’s we closely followed the Tracking App. Everything was going well until about 2 miles short of the Arc de Triomphe when the tracker stopped. We waited and waited – then the Tracker started again after 30 minutes. However, to the Support Teams curiosity, the Tracker had started to go diagonally left – and at a very slow pace. Confused we telephoned the Team – you guessed it – Joel had a puncture and they couldn’t repair it! Puncture Number 4! They were now walking the last two miles with Joel having to carry his bike! Joel showing sheer determination to complete the trip. At approximately 3pm they reached the final destination – the Arc de Triomphe. Celebrations all round and Champagne sprayed over everyone – much to the amusement of local Parisians. A fantastic achievement!

During the course of the trip the donations had steadily come in – the total now stands at £4,915 plus a further £200 in cash – therefore a total in excess of £5,000. This is a wonderful contribution towards Action Against Cancer. As we all celebrated under the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe we all knew that Joel’s Mum was watching on with pride. And all of this originated out of a late night discussion in a night club – it just goes to show what can be achieved with a little determination!

However, without the VW Transporter Van, it just wouldn’t have been possible. So, very special thanks must go to Days Fleet for helping the Team achieve their ambitions. Thank you Days Fleet.

PS – Donations are still being collected so if you wish to add to the total please go to the link –