600-mile cycle marathon

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AN ARBROATH man who now lives in Ipswich is planning a marathon 600-mile cycle ride to his home town to raise cash for his local support group.

Joe Lees (27), an employee of Ipswich Burgh Council, his brother, Sean (24), who is a self-employed joiner in Arbroath, Malcolm Deacon (24), an engineer in Arbroath, and Ipswich work colleague Luke Fresh (22), hope to raise £2,500 for the Ipswich Opportunity Group and they have already managed almost half the target through a ‘MyDonate’ website.

Their challenge will begin on Saturday, September 1, when they will cover the route from Ipswich to King’s Lynn. Thereafter the schedule is: day two - King’s Lynn to Lincoln; day three - Lincoln to York; day four - York to Durham; day five - Durham to Harwich, in the Scottish borders; day six - Harwich to Edinburgh; and day seven - Edinburgh to Arbroath.

The group plans to end up at the St Thomas Bar for a well-earned refreshment.

Joe and his partner, Yolanda Maycock, have a three-year-old daughter, Matilda, who has an undiagnosed complex disability which has left her developmentally delayed and unable to meet milestones such as walking and talking.

Joe told us: “We found it difficult at first to come to terms with her condition and felt very isolated as it didn’t belong to any particular group. We found groups for specific conditions but none for pre-school children suitable for our Matilda.

“We were recommended to contact Ipswich Opportunity Group and finally we belonged. We were able to mix with other families in our situation and really feel part of a group. It also gives us a break from time to time as staff are happy to watch the children while parents have a coffee and chat!

“We are able to access important information and take our daughter to a safe, accepting environment where she can develop and grow with the input of experienced staff.

“We would be lost without this group and would hate to see it go under as it relies on charitable donations.”

He went on: “The challenge is to raise money for the group to keep it running! We will do this by cycling 600 miles from Ipswich to Arbroath in seven days. We are not professional cyclists, just a few reasonably fit guys wanting to make a difference.

“This is truly a difficult challenge and our vigorous training has begun. We will be cycling up to 10 hours a day, stopping only to eat and sleep!

“We want to raise as much money as possible for the security of the group. It has helped my family and many others in ways that can not be put into words.

“Please help us by donating what you can as every little counts!”

The ‘MyDonate’ website address is http://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/josephlees1

Joe is a former pupil of St Vigeans Primary School and Arbroath High School. He was an enthusiastic and proficient member of Arbroath and District Athletic Club and when he was 15 he held the Scottish record for his age group in multi-events. He was also a keen football player.