Charity bike ride on course

A 5,000 mile charity bike ride round the coastline of Britain is due to be completed this weekend, despite the untimely death of the participant’s Royston-based mother, who was the inspiration for the adventure.

Phil Swanston, 52, is due to finish the epic journey in Brighton on Saturday after undertaking the challenged for Alzheimer’s charities.

However, 27 days into the trip, Mr Swanston found out that his mother Odette, who has suffered from Alzheimer’s for six years, had passed away, leaving him with a tough decision to make.

“I was 1,600 miles in and was just on the outskirts of Runcorn. I received a phone call from my brother who told me the news. I was in a state of absolute shock,” said Mr Swanston.

“I was obviously upset, but got myself together and cycled to Chester, where I hired a car, put my bike in the back and drove to Royston. I was at my mother’s bedside within six and a half hours, and was able to see her before she was taken away.”


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Mrs Swanston had lived in Royston since 1978, and her late husband Terry had a house in Tall Trees. She then moved to King James Way before transferring to Richard Cox house, where she died.

Her funeral took place a couple of weeks after she died, which is when Mr Swanston, who is a pub manager from Surrey, got back on the road to resume from the same spot where he stopped.

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When he contacted The Crow on Thursday he was in Great Yarmouth, but was planning an inland dash.

“Tomorrow night (Friday 10) I am planning to be in Ipswich and Saturday I will do a run inland to Royston. This was originally planned to visit mum but now I’ll see if her neighbours can put me up. She had a huge amount of friends and good neighbours in the area.”

Mr Swanston, who is financing the trip himself, has already raised a lot of money for his endeavours, and is still taking donations.

“The current total is probably in the region of �15,000, which was mainly pledged before I left. It’s going towards Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Scotland.

“I’ve got lovely stories of donations that occurred during the trip, and people paying for meals for me and putting me up in accommodation.”

An intended finish date for Mr Swanston is earmarked for this Saturday, when he will pull into his starting point of Brighton.

“I’m at the 11 week mark at the moment, and intend to be in Brighton on the 18th. There are about 300 miles to go,” he said.

Anyone wishing to donate money to Mr Swanston’s causes should visit his website at www.5000miles.co.uk.

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