Church 'Revs-Up' For Charity Cycle

Fun fund raising and literally 'getting on your bike' has inspired the Church of Ireland's St Brigid's Tour de Connor event.

It will shortly see the Rev Bill Boyce, Rector of St Brigid's, Mallusk (pictured on left) with his curate, the Rev Andrew Ker and parishioner Sam Cunningham pedalling almost 350 miles and visiting every church in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Connor, with help from Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, also pictured.

For Bill Boyce the sponsored mega-cycle will be emotionally as well as physically demanding, for it is being undertaken in remembrance of his wife, Sandra, who was just 56 when she died from cancer last year.

Bill and his fellow cyclists aim to raise £20,000 for the Friends of the Cancer Centre.

'Tour de Connor' will start at St Brigid's Parish Church at Mallusk on Tuesday 1 June, and the team expects to be 'in the saddle' for six days as they tackle the gruelling 346 mile route round the diocese, finishing on Sunday 6 June, the first anniversary of Sandra's death.

Parishioners throughout Connor will be invited not only to sponsor the cyclists but also to provide the names of family members who have died of cancer for entry in a new Book of Remembrance.

Each parish will present names for inclusion to the cyclists as they arrive at their church.

The Book of Remembrance will be dedicated at a Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance on Sunday 6 June at 4pm at St Brigid's, in a service led by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Alan Harper.

Bill said: "It was the care and compassion of the people in the Belfast Cancer Centre that spoke to me.
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"They were very dedicated people and they need funding so I wanted to do something for them. I was just chatting to Andrew (Rev Andrew Ker), a keen cyclist himself, who had a cycle in mind and this all fell into place.

"I see the Tour de Connor as having a dual purpose. It is a diocese-wide venture, but is also a way of helping people who have to deal with cancer," he said.

"The lists of Remembrance are a way of marking the stops at each church. These lists would then be built into a Book of Remembrance, which will be dedicated in remembrance of everybody’s journey, not just my own."

In support, Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, said there were three reasons to support the cycle.

"It is a way of supporting Bill and honouring Sandra who was just a delightful person," he said.

"Because I believe that the Friends of the Cancer Centre is a wonderful organization and I want to support such a worthy cause.

"Thirdly, I know from pastoral experience a number of people across Northern Ireland who have lost loved ones through cancer and remembrance is very important for them. In remembering those who have died the ride is hopefully helping those who grieve."

Colleen Shaw, Fundraising Manager for Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: "I got to know Bill when his wife Sandra was attending the Cancer Centre. Bill's a passionate and determined character who'll achieve anything he puts his mind to, so I've no doubt he'll complete this challenge.

"I'm sure they'll all have a jolly good time while raising such important funds to support our regional centre for excellence in cancer treatment.

"They've come up with a really great idea that will no doubt capture the public's attention through the Tour de Connor and we welcome anyone to contact us should they have other interesting ideas to raise funds."




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