Benefit bike ride to Belgium

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An employee from FirstGroup, Britain’s biggest transport operator is itching to get back in the saddle after an adventurous charity bike ride to Brussels left him battered and bruised.

Alastair Sexton Jones, Rail IS Programme Manager cycled 310 miles from London to Brussels as part of a 20-bike convoy all raising money for different charities.

On day three, Alastair suffered an unfortunate 25mph crash as he checked on the fortunes of another rider.  He sustained deep tissue leg injuries, a frozen shoulder and whip-lash.  Luckily there was a qualified doctor with the group but even so Alastair had difficulty in walking for a couple of days.  Despite the pain, he courageously carried on cycling, determined not to let down his charity; the Railway Children, for whom he has raised £2,500 including a generous donation from First’s Charity Committee.

Even before the accident, it was not all plain sailing.  Alastair unfortunately over-shot one of the signposts at speed and got lost in the middle of the Belgian countryside.  Fortunately, he managed to find his way and make up the time (unlike one rider who went missing for four hours after failing to follow directions.)

Alastair commented: “It was a great adventure and tougher than expected –Holland and Belgium are flat, but riding against the wind and rain was a struggle at times.

“My injuries are healing well – but the pain of spending 35 hours in the saddle is still fresh in my memory!

“I will definitely do it again, perhaps the year after next, so as to give my sponsors the chance to save up!”.

Kate Lamb, the North West representative on First’s Charity Committee, congratulated Alastair and said; “we are always pleased when we can support our staff in their fund-raising efforts especially when they are helping the community.  Well done to Alastair.  The Railway Children does a fantastic job in helping children who unfortunately risk their lives living around the world’s railways.”

Alastair, 50,  is married with one 10 year old son and lives in Glossop.  He has worked for First for almost six years.  He has always been a keen cyclist but lost his father-in-law to Alzheimers in 2009 and decided to do something useful with his holidays and so rode to Paris to raise awareness of the disease.   He is always riding one of his five bikes and continuously trains to keep fit.

The Railway Children provides help to children in need, hardship or distress and in particular to those living on railway stations in the UK and across three continents.  Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/railwaychildren.

Alastair was awarded funding to donate to The Railway Children by FirstGroup’s Sponsorship and Charity Committee.  The Committee comprises 12 members of staff based throughout Britain and considers requests for funding and gifts from groups and organisations across the country. For further information on the Committee please visit www.firstgroup.com

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