Athletics chief gets on his bike in aid of pool project

Five of the team riding for MS Research and Relief Fund at the Wooler Wheel Classic, including Neil Black, centre.
Five of the team riding for MS Research and Relief Fund at the Wooler Wheel Classic, including Neil Black, centre.

The top athletics official in Britain joined a Morpeth-based charity’s cycling team to help it raise funds and awareness.

MS Research and Relief Fund (MSRRF) has successfully linked up with the cycling organisation Wooler Wheel Hub.

A team representing MSRRF took part in the recent Wooler Wheel Classic – a ride through beautiful countryside in north Northumberland. It included Neil Black, performance director for British Athletics.

As well as bringing in money for its state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool project, the eight riders highlighted the benefits of cycling to maintain a healthy lifestyle for all people affected by multiple sclerosis.

The other seven were Bernard Tanney, Paul Thompson, Dr Joe Guadagno, Steve Dack, Elizabeth Hush, Michael Henderson and Bruce Dowson.

Mr Black, whose background is in physiotherapy, said that he first got involved with the charity when MSRRF network and marketing manager Sue Dowson asked him to do a brief presentation at a function.

He added: “I was very impressed with the charity’s work and I noticed that there are similarities between its physical support for people with MS and what we do to develop Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

“The slightest amount of increased strength or better quality of movement can make the difference between winning a medal and just missing out in athletics and other sports, while for people with MS, these improvements can enable them to get up the stairs or go outside.

“In both instances, programmes are put in place around the needs of each individual.

“The charity’s staff also provide excellent emotional support and expertise on the condition.

“I told Sue that I would be on the end of a phone to provide advice if needed and that I would be able to help with fund-raising activities where possible.

“I enjoy cycling and it was great to be part of the MSRRF team at the Wooler Wheel Classic to help raise funds for its hydrotherapy pool project.”

After many useful discussions with Beth Firwood and Kevin Worley, organisers of the Wooler ride and other cycling events, they have agreed to help develop the charity’s Pedal Power Challenge to link in with next year’s even bigger Wooler Wheel Classic.

If the required funds are raised for the pool project, it will be located in a single-storey extension to MSRRF’s Benmar House headquarters in Stobhill.