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Newspaper staff brave 'worst weather' for coast-to-coast cycle ride

Four staff from the Nottingham & Long Eaton Topper defied rain, hail and howling winds to cycle 140 miles across England.

Editor John Howorth, deputy editor Simon Holmes, classified manager Craig Gealy and graphic artist James Stock pedalled from Whitehaven to Sunderland on a three-day charity coast-to-coast ride on one of the coldest and wettest Spring Bank Holiday weekends on record.

They tackled tough terrain, 2,000ft climbs and windswept moors on their trans-Pennine ride – and only got one puncture along the way!

The epic ride was inspired by the death of Hayley Donze, daughter of former Topper photographer Martin Donze.

Hayley was 16 when she died of Meningitis in 2005.

Her parents Martin and Michelle provided vital back-up for the Topper cyclists, supplying them with coffee, cakes and moral support and carrying belongings in their camper van.

  • The Topper team reach their destination
  • A team spokesman said: “It was the death of Hayley that inspired this challenge but it was Martin and Michelle’s support and humour that ensured we were able to complete it.

    “The weather couldn’t have been worse but they really kept our spirits up. On the second day we’d spent over 13 hours in the saddle battling against strong winds, driving rain and hail storms.

    “The sun had set and it was getting dark but they followed us for the last few miles to light the way, sounding their van’s novelty horn with cockerel crowing sounds echoing across the Pennine moors – it was surreal but it’s that kind of British humour that spurred us on.

    “They even bought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate with on the beach when we reached the other side of the coast on the last day.

    “Obviously it was a poignant journey and an arduous one too but Martin and Michelle were keen to ensure we had a lot of laughs along the way.

    “Nothing will bring Hayley back but hopefully this event will help ensure her memory lives on. We wanted to let the family know people will never forget and to raise money and awareness about the disease.”

    So far the bike ride has raised well over £1,000 in sponsorship for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

    To find out more about the Meningitis Research Foundation visit