Fire safety expert hits the saddle to save Mids charity
A Solihull fire safety expert, who served 30 years in West Mids Fire Service, is on a mission to raise much needed funds for a Mids children’s charity.
Simon Baker, 50, from Shirley, is doing a sponsored cycle for Acorns Children’s Hospice.
He hopes money raised from the ride will help save the charity’s Walsall Hospice, which “faces closure, unless it can raise 2 million pounds,” he states.
The Velo 2020 cycle is a hundred miles in total and will combine the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire.
The cycle is scheduled to take place on Sunday June 21, starting and finishing in Birmingham City Centre.
The first leg of the ride takes cyclists out towards southeast Staffordshire. The first ten mile post will be the village of Wishaw, before heading further out towards the east of the region, hitting 20 miles at Hurley. It’s at this point they begin heading south towards Coventry.
At Coventry, peddlers head west, then southwest, through Meriden, before going deep into the Warwickshire countryside, passing Balsall Common, coming slightly north, passing the Solihull village of Dorridge.
They then turn west again, passing through the Warwickshire / Worcestershire border, passing Wythall, Rubery, Belbroughton and Hagley. It’s at this point they take the final stretch, heading east for the final time. However, cyclists who make it this far will have cycled 90 miles. They will still have to give it a further 10 miles to pass Quinton, along the Hagley Road, to take them back to the City Centre finishing line.
Simon took up cycling after retiring from the West Mids Fire Service. He admits it will require a lot of training to get up to the hundred mile standard:
“I cycle every weekend across the area and it’ll be worth it, because every spin of that peddle is raising money for a much needed cause.
“It’s not easy. I fell off the bike twice in black ice on a route round Warwickshire, recently.
“Acorns, as of October 2019, have raised £375k of the £2 million they need to keep the hospice in Walsall, open.
“I would be most grateful if you could donate, because the work this charity does is incredible.
“I’ve been cycling now for 18 months. I wanted to make a positive change that would benefit my health.
“It’s nostalgic, because at 17, I couldn’t wait to get on two wheels with an engine. More recently, however, I couldn’t wait to get back on two wheels, but this time, without an engine.
“I had a puncture last month and it was like being 14 all over again. I remembered exactly what my dad taught me, as if it was yesterday.
“I’m doing spin class twice a week at the gym, as right now, I’m up to 50 miles, stepping it up to 65 and 70 miles, shortly.
“The pit stops along the 100 mile ride will be very important, stopping to stretch and have a drink.
“It warms to see the pubic pulling together to do what they can to keep the hospice going.”
Simon is no stranger to the work of Acorns. He’s been raising money for the charity for more than twenty years:
“It’s a charity that I hold close to my heart. Some of those kids have had no chance in life and anything I can do to support them is what matters.”
You can sponsor Simon and help Acorns achieve its target via the Just Giving page https://justgiving.com/fundraising/simon100milecycle
The two-million-pound appeal was launched in the summer of 2019. It has so far raised more than £375,000, according to the Acorns website.
The £2 million Appeal – launched in July 2019, as the proposed closure of its hospice in Walsall was put on hold – has seen a groundswell of support from the local community with numerous individuals, celebrities, businesses and sports teams all stepping-up to help Acorns and the 233 children and their families across the Black Country that use its services.
Acorns Chief Executive Toby Porter paid tribute to the fabulous generosity of the local community but urged people to keep donating. He said:
“If anyone had said to me at the start of the Appeal we would have raised £350,000 just over two months after launching our Appeal, I would have been amazed. This is a wonderful, generous community and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has helped us reach this milestone.
“We know there is still much work to be done and we are not resting on our laurels. With many people getting stuck back at school and work after the holidays, the next few months will be crucial. I urge everyone to see what they can do to support the Appeal. Large or small, it doesn’t matter – it all makes a difference for our ability to help any child and family in the Black Country that will need us in the future.”
The Save the Acorns Black Country Hospice Appeal was launched by Acorns following a commitment of significant new NHS funding from Black Country healthcare commissioners and an earlier announcement by NHS England that they would double their central funding support to the country’s children’s hospices over the next five years.