Four rugby players cycled from Leeds to Hemel Stags to raise thousands for charity

The group has raised over £2,500 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 9:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 9:40 am

Four friends from Hemel Hempstead cycled from Leeds to Hemel and raised over £2,500 for Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Gareth Swindells, Barry John Swindells, Ashley Fyson and Mark Manito, who all play rugby for Hemel Stags, wanted to raise money for the charity on behalf of former professional rugby league footballer Rob Burrows who was diagnosed with the terrible illness last year.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association is a charity focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for people affected by motor neurone disease

Barry John, Gareth, Ashley and Mark

On Thursday, June 24, Ashley, 36; Gareth, 36; Barry John, 39; and Mark, 41 - all from Hemel Hempstead, went to Leeds ahead of their 200 mile bike ride to Hemel Hempstead.

On Friday they started they set off from Headingly stadium home of Leeds Rhinos rugby league team down to Hemel Stags rugby league ground - they completed the challenge over two days.

Gareth said: "We are all rugby players and when we read the story about Rob Burrows, we wanted to do something to support him and raise money for MND Association.

"It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

They have raised over 2,500 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

"It rained pretty much all day on the first day, it was both mentally and physically challenging.

"I wasn't sure if I would be able to do the second day, but we woke up and the weather was nice and it was a lot better.

"We wanted to raise as much as possible for MND and set a target of £1,000, which we have already beat, the total is over £2,500."

Barry said: "It was brutal, especially the first day where it didn't stop raining. It was very challenging.

The group cycled 200 miles from Headingly stadium home of Leeds Rhinos rugby league team down to Hemel Stags rugby league ground

"When we heard about Rob and saw some of the things he was going through we wanted to do something to help.

"MND is a great charity and we are grateful for all the donations, it's unreal how much has been raised."

The group also wanted to raise awareness of the disease which is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time.

There's no cure for MND, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person's daily life.

Four friends from Hemel Hempstead cycled from Leeds to Hemel and raised over 2,000 for Motor Neurone Disease Association

They have now raised over £2,500 on their JustGiving page - Stags Lads Cycle From Leeds To Hemel Hempstead.

Mark said: "It was the most painful thing I have ever done in my life, for 18 hours, but it was also amazing.

"We have raised over £2,500 and still got more to come, we are really proud of what we have raised."

Ashley added: "It was really difficult, both mentally and physically. We wanted to do something challenging but I don't think any of us realised just how challenging it would be, especially the first day with the weather. The second day was more enjoyable for us.

"It's great how much has been raised for the charity, and I think there's some more to come too."

To make a donation to their page and support Motor Neurone Disease Association does visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/leedstohemel.