Epic fundraising challenge raises £15k in dad’s memory

Sisters Rachel McBryde and Charlotte Woodcock after Ride London, outside Buckingham Palace on The Mall at the finish.
Sisters Rachel McBryde and Charlotte Woodcock after Ride London, outside Buckingham Palace on The Mall at the finish.

In January sisters Charlotte Woodcock and Rachel McBryde, along with their mum Pam, began an epic challenge to take on 15 gruelling events in 2015 in an attempt to raise £15,000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of their father, former Castle Morpeth Chief Planning Officer Tony Woodcock. Here Rachel McBryde describes the events of the last few months.

As summer draws to an end we have been reflecting recently on how much we underestimated what 15 challenges throughout 2015 – more than one per month – would mean for our bodies, minds and spirits.

Team 15in15 (right) on the podium for the Woodhorn Sprint Triathlon.

Team 15in15 (right) on the podium for the Woodhorn Sprint Triathlon.

We’re still going strong, but fatigue is starting to set in as autumn nears.

Yet looking back on the year so far, 2015 has brought unforgettable adventures, new friendships and unbelievable acts of kindness and generosity.

It this that gives us the inspiration to keep going, especially when you think that in eight short months Team 15 in 15 has raised more than £18,000 for Pancreatic Cancer UK, surpassing our original target of £15,000 and still with four months to go.

June was lots of fun. Our ‘Hoedown’ at Whalton Village Hall, supported by Tyne Bank Brewery, brought together more than 100 friends for dancing and drinks on a beautiful summer evening, raising thousands of pounds in the process.

Deborah Smith, Jade Craigs and Katie McBryde at the Great North Swim.

Deborah Smith, Jade Craigs and Katie McBryde at the Great North Swim.

A week later came a beautiful afternoon hosted by Val and Mike Windle, friends of mum and dad.

‘Tea for Tony’, held in their pretty country garden, raised another £1,000.

The challenges have come thick and fast.

The Great North Swim in Lake Windermere saw seven team members tackle varying distances, including an epic three-miler for Charlotte.

The overall theme for the last three months, however, seems to have been cycling, as many of our recent events have incorporated this.

A few weeks after Windermere, Woodhorn Sprint Triathlon brought a rain-soaked swim (well, we were wet already), and a brutal headwind on the bike, with gusts of up to 55mph.

However, that didn’t deter the stellar talents of the 15 in 15 relay team getting second place on the podium in their first ever triathlon.

Ride London in August was a true highlight of the year.

The cycling equivalent of the London Marathon (and organised by the same events team), 100 miles on closed roads took Charlotte and I through the capital and out into Surrey, along with 25,000 others, passing landmarks including St Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London and Big Ben during the world’s biggest sportive.

A finish on The Mall in front of cheering crowds, ending outside Buckingham Palace, brought tears of relief – those 100 miles really hurt for a first timer like me – as well as memories of watching the televised Pro-race, which takes place after the amateur ride on the same day, the previous year while dad was in hospital. It was then we made the decision to take part in 2015.

The fact Eric Clapton’s Layla, one of dad’s all time favourite songs, was belting out as our wave of riders crossed the start line only added to the poignancy of this epic adventure.

The sense of achievement, tinged with sadness, as we crossed the finish line together was all a bit too much. I think we were both thinking the same thing – dad would have loved this.

This made the Great North Bike Ride, a mere 60 miles by comparison, feel fairly leisurely. And our team again came out in force to support, with riders, transporters and babysitters all playing their part.

One year and one day after dad left us on September 12, 2014, more than 15 team members took part in the Great North Run. Having taken part many times himself, dad was in our hearts and minds on September 13.

In amongst all our challenges we must give a special mention to the incredible Maley brothers – Benjamin, Jonathan and Matthew, three under-tens who, with the support of their lovely parents Sean and Carla, are attempting 15 of their own challenges.

To date they have raised more than £1,100 and their effort and dedication continues to inspire us all.

Finally, on Sunday, October 4, comes the big one, Ironman Barcelona (challenge 13), for Charlotte.

More than a year of training will finally come to bear. We are

all so proud of her for taking on this challenge and wish her the very best of luck.

We’ll report back at the end of the year, when we’ll all be taking a well-earned break.

l To donate to Pancreatic Cancer UK via Team 15in15, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/15in15

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