Sat, 18 Aug 2018
AN AVID cyclist and his friend are racking up more than 1,000 miles between them to help a Newbury-based mental health charity increase its service.
Steve Masters will traverse the length of France in the saddle before tackling 720km of hilly road riding across the Pyrenees with Paul Thatcher to raise money for Eight Bells for Mental Health.
Mr Masters are aiming to raise enough money so that the charity can open an additional day to cope with its growing demand.
This will cost the member-led organisation around £15,000, which is needed to cover rent and staff costs.
Eight Bells supports people affected by mental health issues in Newbury and the surrounding areas.
The charity’s drop-in centre at the Friends Meeting House on Highfield Avenue is open Monday and Thursday from 9am-3pm each week.
The charity’s membership has almost doubled in the last 18 months and says its drop-in centre is extremely busy, adding that opening on a third day of the week has been needed “for some time.”
Steve @AnothervoiceWB is camping tonight after completing 82 miles today. The roads were up and down all day.https://t.co/a2nLBZzdx1 #mentalhealth@GreenNewbury @fionatomas_nwn @Greenham_Trust pic.twitter.com/g1BF5KG9e7— 8Bells4mentalhealth (@8bellsforMH) August 17, 2018
Mr Masters and Mr Thatcher will set off from the French town of Hendaye on September 3 to cycle across the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean in a timed bicycle challenge, officially known as the ‘Raid Pyrénéen’.
The duo will tackle 720km in a strict cut-off time of 100 hours – spanning four full days of sitting in the saddle – before finishing near Perpignan.
Around 300 people complete the route each year and independent cyclists are often required to carry their own supplies.
Mr Masters, who has experienced his own brushes with depression and has used cycling as a vehicle to combat the condition, said: “Eight Bells has always been closed to my heart.
“Mental health touches most people at some point during their lives, directly or indirectly and I would encourage anyone to give cycling a go – evening if it’s 10 miles around Greenham Common.”
Steve is almost ready to set off. His touring bike is loaded and fully serviced. He completed a final test ride this morning. Please sponsor him— 8Bells4mentalhealth (@8bellsforMH) August 15, 2018
Good luck @AnothervoiceWBhttps://t.co/a2nLBZzdx1 #MentalHealth #Newbury @NewburyToday @GreenNewbury @RichardBenyonMP @MikeHarlingPSW pic.twitter.com/XHnZmmaWNs
Raymond Fox, members’ chair at Eight Bells, said: “The members are really proud of Steve and his epic bike ride to raise money for our charity.
“He showed us the route he will be cycling on a map and we couldn’t believe how far it is and how tough it looks, certainly not a journey for the faint hearted.
“Steve’s put months of training and all the members wish him the very best of luck.
“All the funds Steve raises will be channelled into supporting more people with mental health issues.”
To sponsor Mr Masters and Mr Thatcher, visit: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stevemasters1