Northants charity's funding boost after 'brutal' folding bike Land's End to John O'Groats ride

Andy used his late friend's folding Brompton bike

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 7:00 am

A man has paid tribute to a much-missed friend by undertaking a gruelling six-and-a-half day ride from Land's End to John O'Groats on his late pal's folding bike.

Andy Lock cycled the length of the UK mainland to raise more than £14,000 for FCC - the Faraway Children's Charity - based in the county that helps Northamptonshire's most disadvantaged children.

The folding Brompton commuter bike with little 16in wheels, used by Andy, was one owned by his friend James Swallow who died in 2017. The pair met at Wellingborough School and subsequently both lived in Northampton.

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Andy with the bike

James, who was also known as 'Jimmy' and 'Swaz', was a keen bike collector including the six-geared silver Brompton.

Andy, 42, said: "Jimmy passed away suddenly in 2017 at the age of 38, which left a great void in the lives of so many of his family and friends.

"He was loved by so many and I imagine not a day goes by without a reminder of how he brought such a huge amount of fun and laughter to us all on every single interaction.

"I have always wanted to cycle this journey and I thought this would be a great way to honour our friend’s memory by riding it on his bike.

James' Brompton folding bike that was gifted to Andy by James' parents after the ride

"It's a completely inappropriate bike to use for this kind of journey. It was brutal to be honest. It was an incredible challenge."

Andy rode the 879 miles from the tip of Cornwall to the top of Scotland in six days, 12 hours and 40 minutes - with a few setbacks including three punctures on the first three days.

He also had three out of six gears fail, having to divert to a bike repair shop on the way so he could tackle the hills and keep to his schedule, averaging over 130 miles per day on the bike.

Last week Andy handed over the cheque to FCC, a charity supported by James' parents Peter and Sue - themselves raising more than £58,000 for the charity.

From Left to right: Peter Higgins, Sue Swallow, Peter Swallow, Charlie Ward, Andy Lock, Tom Archer.

Andy said: "The FCC support children and young people in the most deprived areas of Northants with all charitable donations going directly to help children who are most disadvantaged.

"Jimmy had such a huge network of great family, friends and work friends, we were really keen to raise as much for the Faraway Children's Charity as possible.

“It was a brilliant journey - emotional and brutal, gruelling and long. I was supported throughout by three amazing mates Peter Higgins, Tom Archer and Charlie Ward. It wouldn’t have been possible without them and having my wife and daughter and James's parents there at the end was a lovely way to remember Swaz.”

Jane Deamer from FCC said: "FCC is over the moon about Andy’s incredible achievement! £14,415 is a huge donation for a little local children’s charity.

"It's hard to put into words how much respect and thanks we have for Andy, all his supporters and sponsors. The funds will provide thousands of disadvantaged children with food, clothing, toiletries, treats, activities and of course smiles."

Andy added: "Swaz was a really special guy. After the ride his parents gifted me the bike. I ride it to work. I got two models made of it and presented them with one and I have one on my desk."

FCC is governed by a committee of voluntary trustees and supported by a number of volunteers who share a commitment to low cost – no cost charity administration (ordinarily insurance and storage being their only annual admin costs) to ensure maximum benefits with 100 per cent of donations for vulnerable children.

As a volunteer-led charity the FCC has no paid staff and relies solely on goodwill and generosity to achieve its ambitions for vulnerable children.

Since 2008, the FCC has distributed well over 67,000 free resources and gifts to disadvantaged children, supporting thousands of young people in the last nine years. Through donations these children have benefited from: improved hygiene; warm and clean clothes and shoes; enjoyment of toys, games and books; Christmas presents for children who may not get any or many; Easter eggs for children who may not get one; healthy and celebratory food; fun and smiles.

The FCC does not receive any statutory funding and is solely funded by the creativity and generosity of companies, individuals, clubs and groups who fundraise on its behalf or donate goods that can be distributed. The FCC is very grateful for any support offered as collectively it makes an enormous difference to some of the community’s most disadvantaged members.

Here's how to support this paper's annual Christmas gift appeal with donations to FCC - click here to donate and for details.