Left to right: James Maltin, Doug McKinnon, George Lineker, Phil Upton, Geoff Thomas, Dom Goggins, Nicki Aitken, Hayden Groves, Simon Gueller
Former England footballer and blood cancer survivor Geoff Thomas, seven of the Le Tour riders and George Lineker, met with Professor Charlie Craddock at the Centre for Clinical Haematology (CCH) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham (QE) last week to find out where the funds they aim to raise through completing Le Tour – One Day Ahead and London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution will go.
Geoff and the team’s fundraising efforts will go towards boosting the life-saving work carried out at the CCH at the QE, where Professor Craddock treated Geoff. The £1 million Geoff aims to raise through Le Tour – One Day Ahead will increase the Centre’s ability to deliver pioneering treatments for blood cancer patients at this international centre of excellence in Birmingham.
To join Geoff and the team riding 'Le Tour - One Day Ahead' visit www.beforethetour.com >
Professor Craddock showed the riders around the CCH’s treatment rooms where they had the opportunity to meet the specialist research nurses who are instrumental in delivering treatments. They also had the opportunity to see the personal touches such as specially commissioned artwork inspired by blood cancer patients, which helps create a positive environment for patients during treatment.
Professor Craddock reinforced that a cure for all blood cancers can be found in Birmingham within the next 30 years and Geoff and the riders are now fully determined to raise funds to hasten this progress.
Following the tour of the CCH, Le Tour rider Hayden Groves said it had been a ‘humbling and inspirational day’ whilst fellow rider Dom Goggins said he had had a ‘humbling morning witnessing where the funds raised will go – straight to patients.’
In 2003 Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and was given less than three months to live. Following treatment from Cure Leukaemia Co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock, including a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Geoff has been in remission since January 2005.
Six months after his treatment, Geoff set himself the challenge of cycling the Tour de France 2005 route two days ahead of the race. This year, a decade on, Geoff will revisit the challenge and cycle the Tour de France route again. This time, one day ahead of Le Tour, and with a group of up to twenty participants, Geoff will complete the ride and raise £1million for Cure Leukaemia.
Geoff, seven of Le Tour riders and George Lineker were then put through their paces by Le Tour sponsor Wattbike, with a training session in the QE atrium.
George Lineker, the son of England footballing legend Gary, is also a blood cancer survivor, and will be showing his support for Cure Leukaemia by cycling London 2 Paris with Geoff, along with Geoff’s former teammates Ian Wright, John Salako and Mark Bright. England under-20 manager Aidy Boothroyd and broadcaster Jill Douglas will also be taking part.
The team had the opportunity to compare training programmes and fundraising stories and also welcomed new riders Simon Gueller, from Ilkley, and Phil Upton, from Birmingham, to Le Tour – One Day Ahead.
Speaking after the session, Geoff Thomas said,
“It has been an emotional day coming back to the CCH and introducing my fellow riders to Charlie and the clinical nurses.
Seeing first hand the impact the £1 million we aim to raise will have has further cemented our commitment to achieving this challenging goal.
We’re excited to have Simon and Phil join the team and I’m looking forward to riding Le Tour with the level of camaraderie and support demonstrated today.”
Donations to Geoff’s challenge can be made through his JustGiving page click HERE .
For more photos from the day click HERE.