5,000 mile journey for fund-raiser Phil

Marathon pedal to help Alzheimer’s research

A 5,000 mile journey awaits a cyclist travelling round the British coastline to fund research into Alzheimer’s disease.

Phil Swanston, 52, is taking up the challenge to help people like his mum, Odette, 82, who suffers from the Alzheimer’s. All the money collected on his pedal will got to the Alzheimer’s Society, who lead the fight against dementia.

A resident of Surrey, Mr Swanston paid a visit to his mum, who lives in Richard Cox House residential home in Royston, this week before setting off on the trip, which he expects to take about three months.

He said: “My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about six years ago, so I’ve seen first hand the devastating effect it has on people. At first she received care in her home, but it got to the point last year where she needed to move into a residential environment because she had deteriorated.”

Odette has lived in Royston since 1978, and she and her late husband Terry had a house in Tall Trees. She then moved into a property in King James Way before transferring to Richard Cox house.

Phil’s journey will see him travelling an average of 65 miles a day, but he is confident he is up to the challenge.

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“I’ve never done any serious cycling before, but I’ve always enjoyed using my bike on a casual basis so it should be a good experience,” he said.

“I’m going on the journey solo and unsupported, so I’ve been training hard over the last few months. I’ve stopped now, and am just having a few days off before I set off.”

The pub manager, who has taken a sabatical to prepare for the mammoth challenge, will begin in Brighton this Saturday. He hopes to call in on Odette en route.

He added: “Depending on how I’m going, I may come in and see Mum later in the journey. When I’m cycling round the Wash it’s only a 120-mile detour, which isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. But it’s been nice to come up and see her this week so she could wave me off.”

Phil is appealing for anyone who can help him out with accommodation during his trip to get in touch. Contact information, and details of how to pledge sponsorship, can be found on his website, www.5000miles.co.uk