Pair take on winter 350-mile cycle ride to help little Alicia

Lee Pannell with his daughter Alicia  (11) and Jeff Heath  ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (143598-8538)
Lee Pannell with his daughter Alicia (11) and Jeff Heath ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (143598-8538)
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ICY winds and rain have not put off a dad and uncle cycling hundreds of miles for a young disabled girl.

Lee Pannell and Jeff Heath are riding 350 miles from Paris to Gosport for Lee’s 11-year-old daughter Alicia.

She suffers from cerebral palsy and her family are fundraising to get the £32,000 they need to install a lift in their home so she can sleep upstairs.

After setting out Lee, 43, of Parker Close, Gosport, said: ‘It was difficult leaving them – that really hit home.

‘People have done things for Alicia – they’ve gone out of their way to raise money. This seemed a bit of a challenge.

‘To get on the bikes and ride is easy enough but not 350 miles when you know the elements are going to be against us.’

Jeff and Lee, who works for a commercial vehicle hire company, were due back in Gosport today at 4pm with their support team.

The pair are riding 186 miles from Paris to Calais, then taking a ferry to Dover before cycling the last leg back home to Gosport.

Jeff, 42, of Highfield Road, Gosport, added: ‘It’s going to be really cold, I just hope it’s not going to snow.

‘As long as Alicia gets the money for the lift it’s all worth it.’

Lee and Alicia’s mum Sharon, 40, want to install a lift in their home as Alicia sleeps in a bed in the family living room.

Putting in a lift and completing an extension on the house would mean her sisters Scarlett and Courtney, both seven, and Kayleigh, 14, would be able to use the living room more.

Alicia and her parents would also be able to sleep upstairs.

Lee added: ‘We’ve slept down in the lounge since January.

‘The lounge is half the size it would be as the bed is in the way.

‘It will be nice to get her into the room with us and get the extension and lift.

‘When we’ve got that we can be a family. It will be nice to be together.’

So far the cyclists have raised nearly £1,800 of the £2,000 target.

Sharon said: ‘It’s amazing, most people would want to do it when it’s warm but they’re taking on a big challenge.’

Since the fundraising started the family have been given £12,500.

Sharon added: ‘We’ve even had schoolchildren donating online, just £1 here or £2 there – every penny counts.’

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