Martin Sanderson
Facilities & Accounts Manager

It all began as a bit of banter in the run up to Christmas. I was asked the question by my stepsister, “Will you do the London to Southend Bike Ride with me”. There was going to be about 12 of us that were going to do the 55 mile ride together and it seemed like a good idea at the time, so I said yes.

As time moved on, 12 swiftly became 2 and I was left last man standing – and how could I leave a girl on her own to do the ride? So, if I am honest, I never for one minute believed that I would actually go through with this mad idea when I originally agreed to do it – but now there was no backing down.

So I purchased a new bike through the Oakenhurst Cycle to Work scheme, bought myself some lycra, outlandish shades, gloves and a helmet and converted to the dark side. I was now a fully fledged cyclist – a red light jumping menace to all on the road.

I started cycling to work, a daily round trip of 6 miles. At weekends, I started going out on longer rides. 10 miles became 20 miles. 20 miles became 40 miles – and what’s more, I was actually enjoying it. And I found that I had lots more new friends, all wearing lycra and happily shouting “good morning” to me as they either overtook me or passed me going in the opposite direction. It’s a whole new culture! It’s improved my driving skills too. I now happily give way to cyclists without swearing and moaning about them, appreciating how annoying it is to have to slow to a stop and unclip from your pedals to put a foot on the ground.

Since January, not only am I healthier and fitter, but I have lost 2 ½ stone in weight. My blood sugar and cholesterol levels have reduced significantly and I feel so much better for it.

Having agreed to do this, it seemed silly to miss the opportunity to raise some funds for charity whilst I am at it. And coincidentally, my stepsister is a volunteer at Samaritans – she is one of those at the sharp end, taking calls from people who really need somebody to talk to in their hour of need. The demand for this sort of assistance is growing. Additionally, she is involved in going out to primary schools and giving presentations to the children about Samaritans. Even at that early age, children are in need of guidance and support. Any donations that you can give will be faithfully applied – I have a JustGiving page set up and would appreciate every single pound that you can afford to donate. Thank you for reading this.