Marathon cycle ride in memory of navy and QA hero

A PAIR of RAF corporals have cycled 1,600 miles to all Premier League football clubs in memory of a former Royal Navy serviceman.

Friday, 27th October 2017, 11:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:01 pm
Matthew 'Spider' Webb. Matthew died of pancreatic cancer last year, causing two RAF Corporals to take up a 1,600 mile cycle ride in his memory. Picture: Crown Copyright

Corporals Ben Cook and Ben Atkey have cycled to all 49 football clubs that have ever competed in the Premier League since it formed in 1992.

Ben and Ben set off from St James’ Park in Newcastle on October 6, cycling between every ground within 14 days before arriving at the finish line in Stamford Bridge – home to Chelsea Football Club.

The two are raising money for four charities – Pancreatic Cancer UK, Rowans Hospice, Prostate Cancer UK and SSAFA – in a challenge called ‘Spider’s Away Days’.

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From left, RAF Corporals Ben Cook and Ben Atkey at Fratton Park as part of the 'Spider's Away Days' challenge. Picture: Crown Copyright

The challenge was inspired by Matthew ‘Spider’ Webb from Gosport, who served in the Royal Navy for 33 years before working at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Spider died from pancreatic cancer last year, but left a profound impact on Ben Cook after a chance encounter a decade ago.

Ben said: ‘Spider was in the Royal Navy and I met him 10 years ago on a cycling charity challenge in Peru.

‘He had been fundraising for many charities and not long after he passed away I approached his wife Louise Webb to ask if she wouldn’t mind me taking on this challenge in his name.

From left, RAF Corporals Ben Cook and Ben Atkey at Fratton Park as part of the 'Spider's Away Days' challenge. Picture: Crown Copyright

‘I only actually knew him for those 10 days but his zest for life and infectious persona made me want to do this when I had heard he’d passed away.’

According to Corporal Cook, the decision to support four charities was a very easy one to make.

He said: ‘He had a short battle with pancreatic cancer and spent a short time in Rowans so when I approached Louise she chose Pancreatic Cancer UK and Rowans Hospice as the two charities she wanted me to raise money for.

‘With the challenge being football related I chose Prostate Cancer UK as it is a charity supported by most football clubs and I thought it was very apt for what me and Ben were trying to achieve.

‘Finally, SSAFA helped me last year through a very difficult time and were there when I needed to talk. It was an obvious choice for a military charity and one I feel needs to get more recognition.’

The pair are hoping to raise a total of £5,000, which will be split between the four charities.