Graham Hampson Silk is once again preparing to join fellow Cure Leukaemia co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, patron Geoff Thomas and Chief Executive James McLaughlin in getting ‘on his bike’ and cycling from London to Paris next month.
But this particular trip will be even more special than the three L2P rides he has previously undertaken as he revealed the motivation behind his return to the saddle.
His 20-year-old daughter, Ali.
Like Geoff, Graham is a former leukaemia patient who was treated by Charlie for chronic myeloid leukaemia, and was given three years to live having been diagnosed in 2001.
Securing a place on a clinical trial saved Graham’s life, and provided the motivation for him, Charlie and Michael Woolley to set up Cure Leukaemia back in 2003.
Since then, not content merely with his role as a founding Trustee, Graham has also got involved in many of the charity’s fundraising activities, but this one will be that little bit extra special with the added family flavour thrown in.
“I have cycled from London to Paris three times before and I thought I was going to gracefully retire into the distance,” Graham explains.
“It was Ali’s idea for me to do it all over again, and for us both to do it together, so I can blame her for what lies ahead!
“Seriously though I am really looking forward to it and it is the most incredible experience,
“For usual non-cyclists like myself, you get to ride with a large number of people in different groups and you can find your own pace and not feel any pressure.
“You are fed and watered, are cycling on closed roads, and that final ride into Paris is the most emotional experience you can ever imagine – it’s a fantastic feeling.
“It is great that Charlie, Geoff and James are also taking part, and there will be a lot of friendly rivalry. Although most of that rivalry will be just me saluting as they go flying past!
“It is such a great few days with everyone having their own incredible stories to tell, and you do end up meeting people who become friends for life.”
Ali was only a toddler when Graham was diagnosed, and was told what he had been through once he was in remission several years later, perhaps poignantly after Geoff had ridden into Paris the first time he completed his Tour de France challenge.
This time around father and daughter plan to be cycling into Paris together.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to the challenge,” says Ali, whose friend Laurel Butler will also be on the trip.
“It’s something I never thought I’d do, and it’s really exciting that I’ve managed to rope Dad into taking part again.
“To be riding alongside him will be amazing, and it will be a great achievement when we finish.
“It’s a great challenge for me, and for Dad as well, but most importantly it’s a chance to hopefully raise some money for a fantastic charity which helps saves people’s lives in the same way that the clinical trial saved Dad’s.”
With Cure Leukaemia recently announcing its national expansion next year, funding specialist research nurses at 12 centres across the United Kingdom, raising money for the charity is set to become even more important.
And Graham believes that, with advances in clinical science being made all the time, there is a real chance to find a cure for all blood cancers within the next two decades.
“There is still a lot of work to be done but we are now going to start working nationally to hopefully eradicate this disease within the next 15 years,” he said.
“We are on the cusp of some really great science, and people like Charlie and his team and all the nurses are making some really significant progress.
“We have to keep going, and unless people support us we won’t be able to do that, so whatever fundraising people can provide will be very much appreciated and will continue to play such a major part in helping leukaemia patients both now and in the future.”
*This year’s L2P ride for Cure Leukaemia takes place from September 12-15.
Click HERE to make a donation to support Graham and Ali.
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives