Local man signs up for Tour de France challenge to find cure for leukaemia - The Redditch Standard

Local man signs up for Tour de France challenge to find cure for leukaemia

Redditch Editorial 24th Nov, 2019   0

FORGET about the General Election and Brexit fever – local man Mike Hopkins is saddling up to join ex-England star Geoff Thomas’s Tour de France challenge to find a cure for leukaemia.

Former England footballer and blood cancer survivor Geoff hopes to raise £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia and will head a team of 20 amateur riders in GT15, cycling more than 3,400km next June and July, 2020, one day before the professionals in the world’s great cycle race.

GT15 marks 15 years since Geoff, a Patron of Cure Leukaemia, was declared in remission from chronic myeloid leukaemia, and it will be his fifth – and last – Tour de France challenge.

Mike, the principal of South and City College Birmingham and from Feckenham, will be joining him, and has his own personal reasons for taking part.

“My father died from leukaemia and also a member of staff at the college, and this is the biggest challenge I could possibly imagine,” said Mike.

“Geoff’s raising this money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and all the cutting advances are made right here.

“Leukaemia was and still is a major killer but a lot of people are now benefiting from the advances being made there – my father lived 18 months longer thanks to those developments, and I am convinced we will find a cure for it one day.”

Mike’s no stranger to cycling – he still races at the age of 61 and is a member of Bromsgrove-based bike racing team V Sprint.

He met Geoff Thomas, who won nine caps for England and captain Crystal Palace to the FA Cup final, through his work at the college – staff had previously ridden the Velo Birmingham for Cure Leukaemia.

“It was quite funny; I was at the launch of GT15 and Geoff had mentioned it before to me and I suddenly found myself hooked up on stage by him and that was it,” said Mike.

“I suppose I could have pulled out, but there was simply no way I’d do that.”

It’s a tall order too, and not just with the cycling, as all participants must raise at least £30,000 in sponsorship, with wine merchant Farr Vintners already announced as headline sponsor.

“The money makes all the difference as the lead consultant at the QE, Charlie Craddock, with that £1million can leverage so many millions more as a result of it – that money can make a massive difference,” said Mike.

He admits his family thinks he’s mad to tackle the challenge – daily stages will be up to 130 miles long, there’s 20 mountains to climb, and all with the official Tour de France breathing down their necks.

“The achievement will be getting to the end,” said Mike.

“But I saw what my father went through and however much discomfort I feel I know it will never be as bad as what he had to endure.”

The Redditch Standard will be following the progress of Mike and GT15. Look out for more in the months to come.

To support him in his fundraising efforts visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/southcitycollegebirmingham .


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