On his bike for charity

words: Tim Power

John Byrne is swapping his ‘Kiss me Quick’ hat for a French beret when he takes on the 500-mile Blackpool Tower to Eiffel Tower bicycle challenge in September to raise £2,000 for local charity Blackpool Carers.

It’s all part of John’s and his sister Angela’s year-long programme of charity events to celebrate J T Byrne Funeral Director ’s 30 years in business.

John, 37, said: “The company was established in 1989 in Thornton-Cleveleys by my father John and mother Christine who, after many years of working within large multinational funeral providers, felt they could offer a more compassionate and professional service if they started an independent firm. I joined the family firm in 1999, and my sister joined in 2010.

“After 30 years of supporting the local people of Thornton- Cleveleys, Fleetwood and the Fylde Coast, Angela and I wanted to show our support for the community we work in by organising a number of charity events during the year.”

Angela has planned to run 30 coffee mornings with local community and church groups to bring people together, while John is entering a number of

different charity events, like sleeping rough in Blackpool to raise money for the local homeless charity and taking part in fun runs to help the local hospice. However, the biggest challenge for John is the Tower to Tower bike ride as he’s new to cycling.

He explained: “Although I have not done much cycling before, I bought myself a new bike and all the gear and I’m really loving it… and I’m even getting used to the thin saddle! It’s wonderful to get out into the countryside before or after work, to get some fresh air and to be on my own with my thoughts.

“I’m slowly building up my stamina to do 20-50 miles at a time and have given myself six months to get cycle fit to take on the five-day, 500-mile challenge from Blackpool to Paris.”

Joining John on the challenge will be 30 other local residents also raising funds for Blackpool Carers.

He added: “I thought the Blackpool Carers was a great local charity as it supports young people who are caring for parents or relatives. Its centre gives them a special place where they can come together for advice, meet other young people like themselves to talk about issues but also have a bit of fun. When I dropped by the centre recently there was a group of kids enjoying themselves making flapjacks.

“It’s wonderful that they look after their loved ones, but that often means they have to put their own lives on hold or give up some or all of their precious ‘me time’ to support someone else.

“The centre gives recognition to the valuable role young carers play in our community and offers them companionship, support, wellbeing, a listening ear, practical help and even hope; it’s a place where young people can be themselves with other kids.”

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