Cyclists ride 80 miles to support cancer charity

WCDI picture with left to right caption of names below.' 'Seven cyclists biked 80 miles around Hampshire to raise money for Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.'Left to right: Patrick Symington, Steve Austin, Tony Eastman, Alex Flarty, Mark Gill, Andrew Weir, Chris Austin, Mark Holt and Laurence Smith (front)
WCDI picture with left to right caption of names below.' 'Seven cyclists biked 80 miles around Hampshire to raise money for Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.'Left to right: Patrick Symington, Steve Austin, Tony Eastman, Alex Flarty, Mark Gill, Andrew Weir, Chris Austin, Mark Holt and Laurence Smith (front)
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Losing your eyesight can be a terrifying experience – especially if it happens in childhood.

Young Laurence Lambert-Smith is facing sight loss after being diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer.

The seven-year-old, of Locks Heath, suffers from retinoblastoma, which means tumours form on the retina of one or both eyes.

It is one of the most treatable forms of childhood cancer if caught early, but young children have to endure multiple general anaesthetics for years and gruelling treatments including chemotherapy.

Around 85 per cent of children lose the affected eye and live with an artificial eye, and nearly all are left with some degree of visual impairment.

Mum Eva, who works for Portsmouth Housing Association group First Wessex Property Services, told colleagues about her son’s plight.

She was overwhelmed when staff decided to take part in an 80-mile cycle ride to raise money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, which provides support and research.

She said: ‘It’s overwhelming to have such amazing support from my colleagues.

‘I can’t thank them enough. Not only are they raising much-needed money to help support many families like us, but they are also helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of this potentially fatal form of cancer.

‘Spotting the warning signs early leads to a greater chance of saving life and vision.’

Seven cyclists – Patrick Symington, Steve Austin, Alex Flarty, Mark Gill, Andrew Weir, Chris Austin and Mark Holt – pedalled 80 miles around Hampshire in one day.

Steve, 45, is general manager for First Wessex Property Services, in Peninsula House, Wharf Road, Buckland.

He said: ‘We trained for a good few weeks which really paid off and we’re delighted to have put our energy and enjoyment of cycling towards such a worthy cause.

‘We mapped out the route to take us via each of our main offices in Hampshire, starting in Eastleigh, then to Aldershot and then crossing the finish line at our head office in Portsmouth.

‘The fact that we have raised funds that go directly to supporting families and children through such challenging times means that every minute of the journey was worth it.’

The team hope to raise £1,000, to donate money go to justgiving.com/firstwessexbikeride.

For more information on retinoblastoma, visit chect.org.uk.