Wellingborough dad's hero cyclists reach Land's End and top £80,000
John Hewitt and his Kelly's Heroes team are raising funds for charity We Mind Kelly Matters
A Wellingborough father has cycled from the tip of Scotland to the toe of England raising over £80,000 for those suffering from mental illness, in memory of his much-loved daughter.
John Hewitt, chairman of Wellingborough-based company the Glazerite UK Group Ltd completed the John O'Groats to Land's End 1,000-mile ride to honour his late daugher Kelly.
Joined by eleven friends and family members, the team, nicknamed Kelly's Heroes, pedalled for 13 days, climbed 59,000ft, battling through unseasonal August wind and rain.
John said: “It was a memorable experience for us all. The pain we experienced was wiped out by the jubilation we felt when we reached the end of each day.
"The hardest part for me was cycling up the Kirkstone Pass in Cumbria in extremely windy conditions. I was in tears, but I knew I had to keep going, not for me, but for Kelly, and those who struggle with their mental health daily."
24-year-old Kelly, who worked as a prison officer at Bedford Prison, died in December 2018 after suffering with anxiety and depression.
After her death, John, and Kelly's mum and sister set up the We Mind & Kelly Matters charity.
John said: “Kelly took her own life following a short battle with anxiety and depression, something which sadly affects millions around the world.
"We don’t want anyone else to experience the pain we have, and we feel that the best way to remember Kelly is to do something positive in her memory and support others who are struggling with mental health issues.”
Kelly’s Heroes set off from John O’Groats and arrived in Land’s End on Friday, August 28 to a socially-distanced crowd of well-wishers.
Many of the people they passed or met on the route have since donated to the charity, something which really touched the team.
Prior to and during the ride, Kelly’s Heroes received a number of messages of support from sporting legends including former Arsenal and England footballer Kelly Smith, current and former Northampton Saints rugby players Harry Mallinder, Alex Waller and Steve Thompson, and cycling commentator Phil Liggett.
There were also some surprise visits from the team’s friends and family along the way, as well as a supportive back-up crew to keep their spirits up as they made the journey from the north of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall.
We Mind & Kelly Matters is to continue to promote awareness of mental health issues in Northamptonshire’s schools and businesses, as well as support the work of other charities like Mind.
We Mind & Kelly Matters funded a £20,000 one-year pilot pilot project in collaboration with Rushden Mind.
The SAFE (Suicide Awareness For Everyone) service offered awareness talks, training events and programmes for 15 to 25-year-olds in Northamptonshire affected by suicide.
John said: “Kelly took her own life having suffered from anxiety and depression in the months leading up to her passing.
"Prior to that Kelly had always been a happy and cheerful girl and a very much-loved daughter, sister and friend, however, her mental health deteriorated very quickly, and her death has left us all completely devastated.
"We also want to raise awareness of Kelly’s story so people can better understand the impact depression and anxiety can have, and hopefully learn from it.
"Depression is a silent killer, and you never really know what someone is going through inside.
”The most important thing is to be kind, talk to each other and reach out for help."
There are also plans afoot for another cycling challenge in 2022. John adds: “We will never forget Kelly and we will do all we can to help others in the same position she was, and hopefully make a difference.”
The team hope the final figure raised will exceed £100,000. To donate to Kelly's Heroes and support We Mind Kelly Matters click here .
To find out more about the charity click here.
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