This June, I’ll be taking on the (considerable) challenge of cycling from London to Paris, alongside our EVP of Marketing Joe Walker, to help raise money for Heartburn Cancer UK. We’ve committed to completing the 330 mile journey in just 4 days, and expect it to be a real test of both physical and mental resilience, but for a great cause.
So, why Heartburn Cancer UK?
This is a charity that means a lot to me. When I was 19, I lost my father to oesophageal cancer – he was 47, and his deterioration was very rapid. With the right treatment and an early diagnosis, his death would have been entirely preventable. Everyone’s experience of grief is different, but the loss that my family went through felt unbearable – that’s why my mother set up Heartburn Cancer UK. With the charity, she hoped to stop other families going through such unnecessary grief.
What’s the charity’s mission?
In their own words, the charity exists “to raise awareness of the dangers of persistent heartburn”, because “earlier diagnosis of a more serious problem helps save lives.” So few people understand that heartburn and other similar conditions can be early symptoms of diseases like oesophageal cancer, and Heartburn Cancer UK was founded to try and share this message. Their work focuses on four main areas:
- Education – campaigning for changes in public and social policy, and seeking out collaboration with medical professionals.
- Research – working with experts in oesophageal cancer to reduce the number of cases of this disease and improve rates of early diagnosis.
- Awareness – building a network to facilitate the promotion of their message, about the importance of early detection and which symptoms to look out for.
- Support – being there for people living with these conditions all over the UK, as well as their loved ones.
I’m passionate about supporting this mission as much as I can, to help my mother and the charity in their efforts, and do my part in preventing other families experiencing loss caused by preventable, treatable cancer.
HCUK is a small charity with limited funds, so myself, Joe, and the wider Loadsure team are committed to the cause. Why now? This year is particularly significant for my family, as it marks 21 years since my father’s death, and 20 years since the charity was founded – I wanted to do something to recognise and celebrate these milestones.
Why fundraise by cycling?
It energises me! I’ve always liked a challenge, having run two marathons for charity previously, and with this year being a more significant anniversary, the London to Paris stretch felt like the right choice. I know Joe fell in love with cycling during lockdown, and we did some cycling together then too, so I asked him to come with me.
We’ve talked about the likely ups and downs, and Joe is optimistic. “For this particular route, we’ll need all the determination we can muster. I have no doubt there’ll be rough moments, but I know our grit and camaraderie will carry us through it.”
In a lot of ways, taking on this endurance test is a solid analogy for what it’s like to be founder and CEO of a fast-paced Insurtech. Sure, there’ll be unforeseen obstacles – like bad weather, problems with our kit, and unexpected detours. It’ll be hard and we’ll need to be mentally resilient, but our patience, perseverance and belief in the common goal will make it both doable and enjoyable! We’ll also have the support of our partners, families and colleagues along the way, as well as the motivation that comes from doing something for a brilliant cause.
This challenge is to fundraise for Heartburn Cancer UK, but it also supports my ambitions to improve my physical fitness, which in turn helps with mental wellbeing. That wellbeing is important to success, and driving forward both my work and personal life. Of course, training is a time commitment, but the positive energy it delivers is already enriching the quality time I spend with my family.
We’ll be supported by a company called Discover Adventure, who’ll be moving our kit between stops, and provide meals. We’re also getting some help from our local bike shop – MB Cyclery – who are our on-bike Lycra and any pre-ride maintenance; you don’t get service like that without shopping local!
Apart from that, we’ll be on our own, carrying water, spare tyres and our (fairly basic, but hopefully sufficient) knowledge of bike maintenance.
How to follow our journey and donate
You’ll be able to keep tabs on us throughout our journey, as we’ll be sharing various updates on LinkedIn along the way! Our scheduled stops include:
Lastly, we’d hugely appreciate any and all donations towards our challenge. It’s for a fantastic cause with limited resources, so if you can, dig deep and help Heartburn Cancer UK on their vital mission to raise awareness and provide support.
To donate, head over to our JustGiving page, where you can find more details.