A courageous band of Ribble Valley cyclists, sponsored by the Grand theatre, Clitheroe, are gearing up for a marathon ride from London on Friday in a bid to ride 1,000 miles to Monaco in nine days.
Led by former Royal Marine Chris McLeod and his wife Helen, who live in Whalley, they have helped raise £500,000 to try to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
They aim to complete the first leg of the Duchenne Dashmax – the 200 miles to Paris – in just 24 hours.
“We have a very good friend, Ali Robertson, whose son Felix has been suffering with the disease for five years,” said Chris. “Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an incurable muscle wasting disease that kills more children than any other genetic condition. The disease, which affects mainly boys, quickly destroys any quality of life, and sufferers are usually left wheelchair-bound in their teens.”
Last year the group rode the same route – climbing the French Alps and navigating a leg of the gruelling Tour-De-France route, and collecting £250,000 for the charity.
And when they rode from John o’Groats to Paris in 2016 – they received a helping hand from outer space.
“One of our cyclists was at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, with the astronaut Major Tim Peake,” explained Chris.
“Tim was at the International Space Station during the cycle ride, so he e-mailed him to tell Tim what we were doing.
“Tim put out a really nice tweet: ‘A big shout out to the riders who are raising money to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy’.
“We raised tens of thousands of pounds through Tim writing just once sentence, and so many people responded by giving to the cause after seeing the post.”
Chris, who attended St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington, said that the fight to find a cure to the disease has made significant progress since last year’s ride.
“The money we raised has helped fund a human trial of the cancer drug, Tamoxifen, which has shown real promise as a treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” he said. But there is still a huge amount to be done - and still no cure.”
Two of the McLeod’s children, Millie and Rory, play in popular local band Northern Sports Club while another son, Angus, is part of rock act Landslide.
“It is incredibly generous of the Grand to support us, and I want to say a huge thank-you to Steven Lancaster.
“We’ve become great fans of the Grand, and our children were all part of the Be My Band project, a fantastic scheme that encourages youngsters to love and enjoy music.”
Donations can be made by searching for searching for DashMAX18 on virginmoneygiving.com