Fundraising in Champagne

Well it is not all hard work and no play when you are on the Cycle Slam. After a tough Day One ride battling all of natures elements, the evening brought an unexpected opportunity to live it up – when we visited the Bollinger champagne house for a private function. So what’s the connection with charity I hear you ask?

Before I answer that question, I want to tell you a little more about the charities that the event is fund raising for. Previous blog posts have covered the Dallaglio Foundation and their sponsorship of research into Prostrate Cancer, but what about the AF Foundation, set up by Andrew and Rachel Flintoff?

Well I rode with them on day one and, during our 8 hour cycling stint, had the opportunity to chat with Rachel about the charity. Basically it all started following Freddie’s benefit year where Lancashire cricket raised over £1M. Having recovered from several injuries himself, he was very aware of the need for excellent physio and rehab facilities. When a friends child needed the same type of support, it became very apparent to the Flintoff’s that whilst the local NHS staff were excellent, the facilities they were using were not. So they set about funding the blueprint design and development of a new physio and rehab unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

With a recipe for success now in place, the proceeds from the Cycle Slam will be focused on replicating these facilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The vision is then to roll out further units across the country at places like Birmingham, Sheffield and Newcastle. An ambitious plan, but one through the drive and determination of its founders certainly deserves to succeed, as the following Slam TV video confirms:

Please donate now if you can. Together we can help improve children’s recovery from serious illness.

So back to the Champagne question. Well part of the answer lies in the fact that Andrew Hawes, who heads up Bollinger’s operation in the UK, was a participant rider on Stage 4. He also stayed with the Slam on the first couple of days of Stage 5 in order to facilitate the 130 Slammers being able to visit the Bollinger facilities in the village of Ay and enjoy an evening’s hospitality. And very, very good it was too!

The second part of the answer to my question became clear during the presentations that take place after every evening meal on the Slam. Having read Lawrence Dallaglio’s biography whilst on holiday earlier this month, I knew that he is a lover of fine wine. And so in July, the Dallaglio Foundation will be launching a wine club, selling (yes, you guessed it)… Bollinger…. with the profits going to the charity.

Ah ha, now it all makes sense, with a 130 people in the room a captive audience to buy and promote these products when we get home. I have a 50th birthday coming up this summer, and now I know what to ask my wife Louise to buy me as a present. Very subtle marketing me thinks!

Defeating Cancer

The BBC’s science programme “Horizon” this week showed the ground breaking UK work by the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital in the latest treatments of cancer. A truly inspirational programme that showed where funds raised by the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam will be used.

You can see the programme on the BBC iPlayer.

As well as following three patients who were part of clinical trials for new treatments at the London hospital, the programme also explored the complex science behind the latest cancer treatments. This showed the three parallel advances that are being made by the scientists and doctors:

  • a system providing advanced 3-D radiotherapy treatments;
  • a surgical robot enabling pinpoint accurate internal surgery;
  • and molecular DNA advances that mean existing cancers can be treated by drugs.

Each of these initiatives addresses a different perspective of tackling cancer. Once the disease is detected, then radiotherapy is used to kill the cancerous cells. The problem is that X-rays cannot distinguish between good cells and the cancerous bad cells, meaning that accurate targeting is essential. This latest machine literally operates in 3-D, zapping the cancerous cells from 100 different angles.

Next when surgery is necessary, the key requirement is pinpoint accuracy in surgical process. The device used was a throwback to research work first initiated by NASA, where they wanted to build a robot in a space station that could be controlled by a surgeon on the ground! This latest version allowed a surgeon to remove a cancerous prostrate with such accuracy that the patient could leave hospital just 24 hours later.

The third scenario tackles the situation where the disease has already spread, and the treatment is to restrict the growth of these secondary tumours. We saw how scientists investigated the B-Raf gene, discovered the way it mutated and designed a drug to combat that mutation. In effect a medical detective story searching for a way to crack a unique DNA code.

Like all well made documentaries, the human interest was the fact that ordinary, genuine and likeable people were now able to receive these ground breaking treatments. For me, the message of hope that this provides was summed up by the clinician who has to tell patients their results. He said that, with previous treatments, 8 out of 10 times he had to give the patient the news that the disease was spreading. Now with these new drugs, that would be reversed, and 8 out of 10 times he would be able to give the patient the news that their cancer was being defeated. Patients able to live with the disease, not die from it. Amazing!

Now all this research comes with a price tag. And that is where the Dallaglio Foundation can help. By donating to the Cycle Slam, the work of the ICR and Royal Marsden will be continued, developing new treatments for prostrate cancer.

Please donate now if you can. Together we can defeat cancer.

Prostrate Cancer Research – how we can make a difference

The work of the prostrate cancer research team, being funded by the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam, has just been recognised as global award winners for their work. They are making a difference. By supporting me, you can too.

Last week I noticed some posters relating to the ‘out of the blue’ March 2012 campaign promoting prostrate cancer. This disease is the most common cancer in men, particularly affecting those aged over 50. Often men have no signs or symptoms and little awareness of a disease that kills 10,000 in the UK every year, with over 250,000 men currently living with the prostrate cancer.

The technical aspects of this disease are that only men have a prostate gland, which is usually the size and shape of a walnut. It lies underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra through which we pass urine and semen. In terms of how the cancer forms, normally the growth of all cells is carefully controlled in the body. As cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion with healthy replacements. However, cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. The following video explains how to become aware of the symptoms of prostrate cancer.

The current stats are that one in nine men is likely to get prostate cancer, with 36,000  cases diagnosed each year. In terms of the most at risk group, then it mainly affects men over 50. As I reach that milestone this year, this is quite a sobering thought. But the good news is that, for many, prostate cancer is actually slow-growing initially and may never cause any problems or symptoms in a man’s lifetime. You die ‘with it’, rather than ‘of it’. However, some men will have cancer that is more aggressive. This needs timely treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.

For the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012, the Dallaglio Foundation is choosing to support the Cancer Research UK funded ICGC project on prostate cancer genetics. This important initiative will read the complete genetic codes of 250 prostate cancer patients. The results will mean that scientists can better differentiate between the fast and the slow growing tumours which in turn, will help to build a new era of personalised medicine. Armed with this new genetic blueprint, doctors will be better able to pick out and target those genes that are causing the aggressive types of prostate cancer with new treatments. Ground breaking research, that will hopefully lower future mortality rates.

In the UK, it is the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust who are leading the prostate cancer ICGC project. For me personally, this is very reassuring as back in 1979, when I was just 17, my father was successfully treated for testicular cancer by the team at the Royal Marsden.

The really, really good news is that these research teams have just been recognised by winning a prestigious global award for success in taking new cancer drugs from concept to patients. This is the first time the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award has been won outside the US.

Through the Dallaglio Foundation, this is the focus of my own fund-raising activities. How encouraging is it, that through your support, we will be able to invest in such pioneering work of a world leading British research team? They are making a difference, now we can too.

This is what the Cycle Slam is all about.

The word is getting out….

Had a positive few days with some of my fundraising ideas and really feel like momentum is now building.  You can find out first about these developments through twitter. Follow me @paulweald

The successes include:

  • LV= Liverpool Victoria – the Heritage Call Centre team are holding a dress down day in May and are donating the monies raised to my causes
  • Nottingham City Homes – the Customer Service Centre team are planning some fund-raising ideas
  • F3 events – a local triathlon event company – have agreed to provide a donation based on the participation of Cycle Slam Riders in two cycle sportives they are organising in April. This is a real win-win for me as it is not only a fund raising opportunity but also a training opportunity for my fellow participants
  • London Midland – the Customer Relations team are organising a collection, a charity bake sale and a sponsored fancy dress.

Donate now

So where is all the money going? The funds raised is going to three fantastic causes:

  1. the Dallaglio Foundation is supporting a cutting edge research project that will help develop more effective and personalised treatments for prostate cancer;
  2. the AF Foundation is developing and improving Child Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Units
  3. and Virgin Unite is helping people tackle tough social and environmental problems with an entrepreneurial approach.

To bring this to life, here is a motivational message from Rachel Roxburgh at the Dallaglio Foundation. This is what it is all about.

You can always find out first about these successes through twitter. Follow me @paulweald

The joy of sportives

I rode my first sportive not long after I completed my leg of the 2010 Dallaglio Cycle Slam – and have used them as a regular part of my cycle training plan ever since. They are great – you get to ride scenic new roads; take on some challenging climbs; enjoy the company of like minded cyclists; and have a great excuse for eating plenty of cake!

You can choose a distance to suit your training needs – I typically opt for 50-60 miles which makes for a great morning’s ride – although there are longer options if I need more miles in my legs.  Even the weather doesn’t really get in the way of the ride. I have ridden in beautiful sunshine; a howling gale; torrential rain; and even in sub zero temperatures alongside snow covered fields… but not all the same day’s ride I hasten to add! The point is, that once you decided to do the ride i.e. paid your money and built it into your training plan, then you might as well turn up and go for it – whatever the elements throw at you.

In terms of my weather related memories, the following stand out:

  • Beautiful sunny weather – King of the Downs sportive (May 2010) which was my first sportive, and a fantastic introduction with 5 testing climbs in theNorth Downs
  • Howling gale – Chieveley sportive (January 2011) – a nice circular route through the Berkshire Downs/Chilterns where half the time you battled crosswinds; a quarter was a slog into a headwind and the remainder a spin session
  • Torrential rain – no contest – that was the Magnificat sportive (June 2011) where Half Ironman Training meant I entered the 80+ mile course and got so wet in 5 ½ hours of riding that I needed a complete change of clothing at the finish. Now nudity isn’t allowed in Triathlon transition, but that didn’t matter in the deserted car park at Newbury racecourse that day!
  • Snow covered fields – now that would be my most recent sportive at Watlington (February 2012) where my team mate’s Garmin registered the air temperature at 30 degrees the whole way round!

However, with the spring bulbs starting to show their face, and British Summer Time just around the corner, now is the time to plan a few sportives in April as preparation for the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam in May. And the really, really good news is that, this spring, I can combine my training with fund raising as well.

How is that? Well, I have got agreement from F3 events that they will offer discounted places in two of their  April Sportives to Cycle Slam participants (which I will also offer to team mates at Thames Valley Triathletes as well).

And the more participants we get for the two events, the higher the donation from the organisers for our charitable causes. A true win-win! The dates for your diaries are:

  • Sunday 15th April – at the iconic Dorney Lake venue (home of the Olympic rowing) with 60 and 100 mile routes available into the Chilterns
  • Sunday 22nd April – from a base at ShiplakeCollege (between Henley and Marlow) with 60 and 100 mile routes across theThamesValley region

Now I did the Dorney Lake sportive event last spring, and the route was so good I borrowed parts of it for summer training rides that I then led with TVT.  So a good days riding is guaranteed – whatever the weather.

Entry discount codes to follow. Please contact me for details.

Fundraising – and how to get involved

It’s a wet Sunday here in Berkshire, and rather than spend four hours on my bike on a training ride getting wet, I have decided to stay in the warm and get my arse into gear with some fundraising ideas for my charity ride.

There is now 10 weeks to go until I get the plane to Luxembourg en route to the start of my stage of the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam. My bike training is on track, but my fundraising total is just 1% of my £3,000 target – so some way to go there.

But, the good news is that I have a plan. This week I have created some postcards promoting my ride, which I plan to distribute to business contacts, friends, family etc. I will also get in touch with those local businesses where I am a customer and ask them to distribute some for me to interested people. Spreading the word….

I am conscious that in March there is a rival sporting charity event taking place – Sport Relief – so I don’t want my request for donations to be diluted by others efforts for these equally worthwhile causes.

So, my focus this month is on finding out if there are any corporate sponsors who might be interested in supporting my main fundraising drive after Easter. So, I am on the lookout for businesses or organisations that want to promote initiatives in the following areas:

  • Healthy employee lifestyles….. involving cycling
  • Corporate Social Responsibility… where cycling is ‘green’ on the CSR agenda
  • London Olympics….where cycling is one of the GB’s blue riband sports
  • Leave the car at home schemes…cycle to work/school instead
  • Male health…where prostate cancer is a real ‘mid-life’ crisis
  • Dress down Friday charity ideas…. where Laurence and Freddie are sporting icons that would appeal to your employees

And so on and so forth…..

So if any of these ideas resonate, then please let me know the right person in your organisation to talk to. Clearly I am after either company sponsorship and/or employee donations, but there are a whole host of ways that I can use the charity ride event to help promote the company and it’s ‘social’ initiatives – personal visits, media PR, online promotion etc.

The second idea is to approach commercial companies who would like to promote their products and services to cyclists. Like bike product retailers; sportive event organisers etc. With the Dallaglio Flintoff event involving over 500 (pre-qualified) cycling enthusiasts then spreading the word about their services in return for some sponsorship or a promotion of my fundraising seems like an equitable swap.

The third of my ideas is to hold a specific fundraising party event. My target date would be weekend 26/27th May. This date is one week after I actually finish the ride (so that you know I actually completed the 578km!), and one week before the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday (when I suspect a lot of people will be away). The idea will be to invite friends, family, sponsors and their supporters to have a ‘bit of a do’.

But to do that I need:

  • A venue – somewhere in and around Wokingham/Reading that will hold 50+ people
  • Some corporate contributions to cover the main costs of the event i.e. the venue hire and catering costs
  • Some freebies…. to offer as raffle prizes.

So another great way for companies or sports clubs to get involved in terms of sponsorship. And it should be a lot of fun as well.

How cancer touches everyone – my story

Both my parents have suffered from cancer – but only one lived to tell the tale.

As a teenager I was blissfully unaware of illness and disease, other than the eventual consequence of getting old. But when I was 17, that all changed. My father was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and in the late 1970s the combination of surgery and chemotherapy treatment was actually quite ground breaking. My father’s treatment was as an outpatient at the Royal Marsden, and I believe this was also about the same time as Bob Champion – the well known jockey – was being treated for the same male cancer disease.

As the all clear came through, and the length of time between my father’s check-ups increased, so our family optimism for the future improved. But then in 1982, just after I had started my final year at University, that all changed.

My mother started to notice chest pain. To the best of my knowledge she had never been a smoker, so we didn’t think the “C” word. Unfortunately by the time the doctors had diagnosed the primary cancerous infection, the disease had spread so far that she died a matters of weeks later. She was 56.

Over the past 30 years I am pleased to say that much progress had been made on both the screening for cancer and the effectiveness of the treatment methods. The survival rates for many of the most common diseases is now 90%+, meaning that many people can now live with the disease, rather than die from it. That is a very important distinction to make, and is always the key question to ask clinicians when cancer is diagnosed.

So why do we need to raise money to continue the research programme? Well, one of the unintended consequences of fact that we are all living longer, coupled with the rise in new health problems caused by obesity, is that cancer rates will in the future increase. But there is some good news emerging for those that focus on exercise and movement as part of their rehabilitation process. The latest cancer research shows that patients that have completed their primary cancer-related treatment, who then engage in physical activity, can enhance their health.

The funds that I will be raising by my participation in this years charity ride will be used by the Dallaglio Foundation.  Their mission really resonates with me “it’s not just about making money, it’s about translating great ideas into meaningful actions”. A key benefactor project will be an ICGC project on prostate cancer genetics. This exciting initiative will read the complete genetic codes of 250 prostate cancer patients; the results will mean that scientists can differentiate between fast and slow growing tumours for the first time and will help to build a new era of personalised medicine.

So I know which side of the fence I stand on over this cancer issue. Whilst we continue to fund research into cures for this terrible disease that can break families apart, we also need to educate people on the steps that they can take themselves to maintain a healthy life-balance. Hence the reason why the idea of using a cycling challenge to not only fund-raise for the good causes involved but also to raise people’s self awareness of the benefits from regular exercise.

I hope you can support me in both of these objectives.