Not for Profit

Published: July 3, 2022 | Updated: July 3, 2022

“The sense of achievement is only just starting to sink in” say riders after 1,300km world first

Four of the ten-strong team (left to right) Simon Seymour, Tony Fitzpatrick, Martin Fitzpatrick and Will Irons.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“Even now, weeks later, I am still struggling to realise what we achieved, physically and mentally.”

The words of former professional footballer, Sylvain Distin.

Pictured at the initial launch, he was one of ten strong, dedicated, and generous friends who, to date, have raised more than £21,000 after cycling from Poole to Southern France.

A world first, Sandbanks to St. Tropez was an international, pedal powered, self-funded challenge.

It involved cycling 1,300 kms – 807.7 miles – over ten days with every penny raised going to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

The team encountered torrential downpours, soaking them to the bone; incredibly difficult climbs – the highest elevation reached 1,100m on Day 6 – headwinds, tailwinds, tumbles, and punctures.

They endured 40c degree heat, sickness, and dehydration.

But they never stopped pushing through and finished the challenge on-time making it the first of its kind.

Sylvain, who played for Manchester City, Portsmouth, Everton and AFC Bournemouth, among others, and lives in Poole, said: “Except for struggling to walk down the stairs every morning, this ride has been nothing but pleasure.

“Even now, weeks later, I am still struggling to realise what we achieved, physically and mentally.

“The support we got from our families, friends, and sponsors has been exceptional, as have the donations on our JustGiving page.”

The challenge was the idea of Will Irons, inspired by childhood memories of holidays in St Tropez, and was brought to life with his brother-in-law, Dave Taylor.

Dave said: “The sense of achievement is only just starting to sink in.

“Months of planning, training, co-ordinating have paid off – turning a dream into a reality.

“We’ve all achieved personal goals, reached new highs and pushed through the lows as a team; something we should all be proud of and cherish forever.

“This has absolutely proved to me that anything is possible and I feel content that our efforts have contributed to a very worthy cause – the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

“Thank you to our corporate sponsors, contributors – who have given their own time, products or services for free – and, of course, everyone who has so generously donated via our JustGiving site.

“Now it’s time for a lie down!”

Will added: “It was an amazing trip.

“A great way to see France and feeling great to have helped raise some money for the DEC, supporting the humanitarian relief in the Ukraine.

“The team has raised over £20,000, so far, but we’d like to reach £30,000.

“We have all been touched significantly by the tragic and shocking events unfolding in Ukraine and want to help by supporting the DEC to provide food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families.

“No amount is too small.

“Every little bit helps so please dig deep and help us support those in need during this desperate and horrific time.”