Toughest test yet for 35 men riding for Oakley charity

Runners, riders and supporters of Oak's Challenge, a charity cycle / run event to raise money in memory of Oak Waterman. Event organised by Dave Waterman and pictured at Gosport Borough Football Club. 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (131317-600)
Runners, riders and supporters of Oak's Challenge, a charity cycle / run event to raise money in memory of Oak Waterman. Event organised by Dave Waterman and pictured at Gosport Borough Football Club. 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (131317-600)

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A GROUP of fundraisers will push themselves with a gruelling challenge, raising cash for a foundation that helps families in the name of a young boy who died.

Banter and friendship will push on former Pompey player Dave Waterman, 36, of Ham Lane, in Gosport, and 34 friends as they jump in the saddle, cycling nearly 1,000 miles together.

The 35 men are split into three groups, with eight doing a tough 90-mile run and 200-mile bike ride, 13 riding 400 miles, while 14 will cycle 200 miles.

All will be raising cash for the Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation, set up after Dave and wife Lorraine, 38, tragically lost their son Oakley to a rare form of cancer aged just six in 2005.

As previously reported, the foundation needs £20,000 a year to offer holidays in two caravans for families with children who have life threatening illnesses.

It was Oakley’s wish as when on holiday he told his parents he wanted other families to enjoy the fun he had.

Dave said the group are nervous ahead of the running team starting on Wednesday but they have been spurring each other on.

He said: ‘There’s a nervous energy but we’re obviously scared at the same time – it’s a bit more than what we’re used to doing. It’s a test, we did it two years ago where we just did the ride and that went really well. It’s been a good bit of banter all the way through.

‘It’s fantastic the support that we’ve had for every event.

‘It’s heart-warming and the lads really put their heart and soul into it.

‘Oakley’s wish has brought a fantastic group together.’

He added he was grateful to a number of sponsors who have made holding the challenge possible.

Lorraine and her friends cycled 200 miles back in April.

The first group will leave tomorrow at 7am on Hayling Island and will run a series of routes in the area.

The groups’ staggered starts will see cyclists will meet at the Dorchester Wessex Hotel before cycling back to Privett Park in Gosport on Sunday.

The group have raised £7,385 on justgiving.com/teams/oakleysheros