An appeal by former British Touring Car Championship racer Paul O’Neill to raise vital funds for Halton Haven Hospice has smashed its target within a week after ‘Team O’Neill’ secured international support.
The cancellation of a fundraising walk across Morecambe Bay in late June due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic left the Hospice facing a shortfall in vital funds that allow it to provide valuable support to the local community.
Paul has been a long-time supporter of Halton Haven after his late brother Stuart was cared for by the hospice, and decided to try and do something to help.
He took the decision to challenge seven friends to join him in a 2,000 mile cycle ride, covering the same distance as the 250 people who would have taken part in the Morecambe Bay event.
Fellow team members Ross Clark and Mark Rowse have close links to the hospice, with their late mothers having benefitted from its care.
Mark will complete his leg of the ride in Switzerland where he now lives, giving the fundraising drive a truly international flavour.
Members of Team O’Neill are using their daily exercise allowance to complete a distance of 250 miles, before passing the virtual baton on to the next person in the team.
Paul’s opening leg saw him make an emotional return to Halton Haven for only the second time since the death of his brother, with an astonishing anonymous donation from the local community covering the whole of the initial £5,000 target.
The challenge has also secured huge support both across the UK and further afield thanks to an initiative dubbed #PedalWithPaul, created by the co-founder of the Sporting Memories Foundation charity, Tony Jameson-Allen.
#PedalWithPaul has seen people take on their own 25 mile ride to show their support for the riders, before making a donation to the cause and nominating five others to follow suit.
Olympic and World Champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and Paul’s half-sister Melanie C are amongst those to take part, whilst broadcasting legend Steve Rider is donating 50% of the proceeds from a special charity auction to Team O’Neill and the Hospice.
Team O’Neill will continue to rack up the miles to raise further funds before the ride draws to a close on 28 June, whilst also boosting awareness for the vital work Halton Haven carries out, and the support it has long provided to the local community.
“We’ve been humbled and amazed not only by the monies raised but also by the warmth of the comments from people,” Fundraising Lead Ann Hedley said. “The motorsport world has really got behind this and raised the spirits of everyone at the Hospice.
“During such a difficult time it’s just what we need. Thank you to all who have donated and supported the campaign.”
To donate to Team O’Neill’s challenge, visit the JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-o-neill29. Alternatively to donate £10 Text ONEILL to 70085. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about Halton Haven’s work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text ONEILLNOINFO to 70085.