Two siblings are gearing up to cycle over 500km from Newry to France in memory of their late father.
Conor and Yvonne Smyth will be making the journey all the way to St Armel, Morbihan, to raise much needed funds for four charities: Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia NI, Marie Curie and Southern Area Hospice.
They set off tomorrow, but have already raised over £10,000 in donations!
Conor and Yvonne only started their training in February for this six-day challenge and they intend to cycle approximately 348km in Ireland and 200km in France.
Conor explained: “We are planning to leave Newry on Saturday June 24, boarding a ferry in Cork on Wednesday June 28, arriving in France on Thursday June 29 and then onto our final destination St Armel, Friday June 30.”
They are raising the money in memory of their father Jimmy, who passed away on May 29 last year, almost two weeks short of his 93rd birthday, having developed dementia in the last few years of his life.
Jimmy loved France and visited St Armel on many occasions, having a long-standing friendship of over 40 years with the village and its people. The family had been visiting the area since 1983.
A family-man, Jimmy had great wit and enjoyed a glass of wine and daily walks with his dog Holly. He was interested in sports music and literature, normally reading three books at a time.
Conor said: “Dementia robbed him and us of all of this. As someone said to me in recent years, you grieve twice with Dementia, first, when memory loss begins and secondly when they pass in this life.”
The four charities carry great meaning for the Smyth family, with Marie Curie providing assistance in the final weeks of Jimmy’s life.
When Conor and Yvonne’s mum passed away from cancer in 1983, Jimmy, who was a member of the Newry Musical Society for almost 40 years, asked people to support a Society fundraiser for the Newry Hospice.
“He told sponsors that they would no doubt encounter, at some point, cancer directly or indirectly in their lives”, Conor said.
Conor added: “We know first-hand just how important it is to have the support of these charities when you most need it and many people out there will need that too. We intend to keep our cycling adventure updated on our GoFundMe page, both in Ireland and France and hope you can follow us and cheer us on virtually.
“100% of all donations will be divided equally between these charities. We know first-hand just how important it is to have the support when you most need it and many people out there will need that too.
“We, the Smyth Family are indebted to the care and support daddy received from the numerous services, friends and extended family.”
If you would like to support Conor and Yvonne’s challenge you can donate here.
You can follow their journey and find out more information about the fundraiser by visiting their live blog here.