Ruby riders pedal for Rowans Hospice

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MORE than 300 people used pedal power to show their support for a hospice which offers palliative care to people with cancer and other life-­limiting illnesses.

The fourth annual Ruby Ride took place last Sunday and saw 330 people cycle either 18, 35 or 65 miles in aid of The Rowans Hospice at Purbrook.

The route took cyclists around Portsmouth and finished at 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour.

Karen Kay, the event’s organiser, said: ‘This is our fourth year. Last year we raised more than £54,000. We are not expecting that amount this time, but it would be lovely if it could at least hit the £50,000 mark.

‘Rides like this mean everything to the Rowans, we are very lucky to have volunteers helping us today and hundreds of participants.

‘We have to raise more than £5.3m a year. We only get 16 per cent funding and it is an enormous thing for people to come and give their time to raise money to go to the care of their friends and family.’

Taking part in the 65-mile ride was Mark Swift, 48, from Hayling Island. He said: ‘A close friend of my mum went through the hospice. Rowans is an amazing organisation that helps with the suffering and makes it easier. You know what is coming, but they make the situation calmer and easier to handle.’

Rob Love, 47, from Waltham Chase, said: ‘At work we have had a couple of people who have lost loved ones and the Rowans supported them.

‘It is an excellent charity. The ride was a challenge but not too difficult and definitely worthwhile.’

Watching at the finish, waiting to cheer on their grandad, was Maisie Hayter, seven, and her sister Ella, five. They were with their grandmother Diane Dawson, 49, from Paulsgrove. Her husband Mark, 44, took part in the ride for the third year running.

Diane said: ‘It is brilliant. Rowans is local to us, although we have never had need to use it, but we know what a good charity it is.’

Handing out medals at the end was volunteer Graham Clark, 76, from Cosham. He has volunteered at the hospice for three years, taking along his dog Truly, a working cocker spaniel for therapeutic sessions.

He said: ‘The ride is first class. It’s well-organised and the women who plan it do an excellent job. It’s popular as people keep coming back.’

n See page 38 for a full list of entrants.