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Southdowns Charity Support Vehicle on its way to John O'Groats

Chris Waters and Damon Pearce with Southdowns General Manager Andrew Ayling

24 May 2011

Cyclists complete 900-mile charity ride with help from Southdowns

Southdowns ‘Charity Support Vehicle’ sees active service on epic bike ride to raise money for Help for Heroes

After training for six months, keen cyclists Chris Waters and Damon Pearce rode 930 miles from Lands End to John O’ Groats, setting off at the end of April and aiming to raise £4000 for the wounded veterans’ charity.

The two cyclists were closely followed by Chris’s mum Linda and her friend Elaine Pawson in a Laika motorhome on loan from Southdowns. All have strong connections to the Armed forces, particularly Elaine, whose daughter Cpl Lyndsay Pawson is serving with the British Army in Afghanistan.

“We were lucky to get the donation of the motor home from Southdowns through a chance conversation and thank goodness we did, as we would not have been able to do this without the Laika,” says Elaine. “I have always wanted to drive one of these vans around Europe and I must say this did not disappoint. None of us had driven anything of this size before but Chris and I found the vehicle quite easy to drive. We named the cab the cockpit and would often joke about who was the best driver!

“The motorhome was very comfortable for the four of us - a bit more of a squeeze when two guests came in the second week but luckily one was a child. The shower was a bonus, especially for the lads who were able to freshen up when they were feeling saddle-sore - and the cooking facilities meant a good meal at the end of each 90 mile stint. We did get loads of attention with the writing on the outside of the Laika and we did our bit for Southdowns by handing out some cards.

During the mammoth bike ride, the team had 14 stops in total ranging from four pub car parks, four camp sites, two industrial lorry parks, two hill stops, one Forest Park and one village location. “We had to stop when the boys wanted to stop,” says Elaine “ so it was a case of finding what was available at the time - not always easy in such a large vehicle”.

There were plenty of highs and lows along the way, lots of laughs and a few near misses - and a tip from the cyclists is that the A1 should be avoided by anyone on a bike at all costs! Injuries were kept to a minimum - just sore knees and ankles - although Chris and Damon had to come off the road for two hours at lunch time three days in a row as the weather was too hot. But the best thing, says Elaine, was the people they met along the route: “from Graham and Martin in the lorry park who looked after us, to people donating water and money at campsites, to pub landlords letting us stop in pub carparks”. And Chris’s highlight was hitting 44.9 miles per hour downhill!

Chris, Damon, Linda and Elaine are still collecting for Help for Heroes and have organised two further fundraisers: a bike night in Spilsby (motor bikes not bicycles) and a supermarket event will hopefully raise awareness and more cash. Elaine’s daughter Lyndsay also has a rugby shirt signed by some of the England team which may be auctioned for the charity.

If you would like to contribute to the cause, you can still donate online by going to: or you can pay donations direct to Lloyds TSB account 309021 03524452 and quote ref no 20110112-3027-3748 in full.

Additional thanks go to Safeguard and Allianz Insurance for assisting with this Charity effort.

Click here for the summer's later Land's End to John O'Groats trip

Lands EndJohn O-Groats