Couples planning a wedding have a wide range of transport options to consider – from a traditional vintage car to a cute campervan. Not many grooms would choose to cycle 240 miles to their wedding venue but that is just what Paul Harwood of Wincanton is planning! He has even roped in his best man and two other family members, in order to raise funds for a charity very close to his heart, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF).
The charity has been an important one to Paul and his fiancée Charlotte ever since their four year old daughter, Tilly, was diagnosed with the rare and life-threatening liver disease, biliary atresia.
“It was a really difficult time for all of our family,” explains Charlotte. “To be told that our beautiful baby girl was seriously ill and then that she needed a liver transplant was really tough. CLDF were there for us with information and support when we really needed them. Fortunately Tilly had her transplant when she was ten months old and she is now doing really well. However, she will take medication for the rest of her life and continue to need the support of CLDF as she grows up. The charity also funds research into childhood liver disease which means that someday a child might not have to go through what Tilly did, and that’s important to us too.
“When it came to planning our wedding we realised that the date we were considering – March 3 – was the day after Big Yellow Friday, CLDF’s national awareness and fundraising day, which we have always joined in with. When Paul said ‘I could ride to the wedding’ I laughed it off to start with but then realised he was serious! When he mentioned it to my brother Nick, my sister’s partner, George and his sister’s partner, Kevin, they all said they would like to do it with him!
“Everyone coming to our wedding has been on Tilly’s journey with us so it really is wonderful we can fundraise for CLDF with such a unique event.”
The three day cycle trip begins on February 28 when the boys leave Charlotte and Paul’s home in Wincanton and embark on a 94 mile ride to Westbury via Longleat, across to Newbury, up to Reading and ending the day at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where they are generously being accommodated for the evening. The next day they are planning a 93 mile trip to central London and then onto Colchester where friends are kindly putting them up for the night.
On the final day the boys have a comparatively leisurely ride of 50 miles to the wedding venue, Bruisyard Hall in Saxmundham, Suffolk where the entire wedding party will be waiting to meet them.
“It will be an incredible achievement and we are immensely proud of them for taking this on,” says Charlotte. “We cannot wait to see them when they arrive at Bruisyard in one piece and hopefully walking for the next day!”
Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “CLDF is the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases, by providing information and emotional support, funds for research and a voice for all those affected. In order to do this however, we rely almost entirely on voluntary donations so we are delighted and so grateful that Paul and his family are doing this for us. Weddings can be stressful enough to plan at the best of times so to throw in a major fundraising challenge shows real commitment! We wish them best of luck for the challenge and wish Charlotte and Paul every happiness for their special day and for their future together.”
You can support Paul’s Cycle to my Wedding by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cycletomywedding or texting ‘CTMW’ plus your donation amount (e.g. ‘CTMY £10’ to donate £10) to 70070.
Photo caption: Paul Harwood (right) will be joined by his best man Nick Hill as he cycles 240 miles to his wedding in order to raise funds for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. They are pictured with Paul’s daughter, Tilly who has inspired their fundraising.