Lincolnshire motorcyclist undergoing cancer treatment gears up for epic solstice bike tour
Helen Farrant, 53, from Sleaford, has been helping to organise the iconic annual fundraiser alongside friend Steve Freemantle for the last five years.
The group of bikers, who started fundraising for Macmillan in 2008, organise a number of events – including a bikers teddy bears picnic – and have raised an incredible £120,000 for the charity.
However when Helen was diagnosed with stage 2 aggressive breast cancer in March last year, her fundraising activities were put on hold for a gruelling schedule of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. She is now on her final round of treatment and looking forward to re-joining her fellow bikers for this year’s Sunset to Sunrise bike tour.
She said: “It sounds strange, but I had a premonition that I’d get cancer. My dad had cancer and another family member had Hodgkin Lymphoma. So I expected it.
“I found the lump on my birthday and I just thought ‘here we go again’. I tried to stay positive and haven’t cried once. My family really struggled with the diagnosis, so I had to be strong for the four of us. I had to help them through.”
Helen was supported by the Macmillan nurses whom she has been helping to fund for over five years as part of the Bikers4Macmillan fundraising committee. Lisa and Carolyn, based at King’s Mill Hospital, in Mansfield, helped Helen through her cancer journey.
She said: “The Macmillan breast care nurse was amazing. Anytime I had a problem, she was there on the end of the phone. I had to cancel some holidays after my diagnosis and she helped me with the letter for that. Any issues or questions I had, I’d phone her and she’d always call me back straight away. She was just there the whole time.”
Many of the bikers in the fundraising group have been affected by cancer including the group founder Steve Freemantle, 68, from Sleaford. His mother in law passed away from bone cancer 14 years ago and shortly after his wife was diagnosed with throat cancer. Both were supported by Macmillan.
The experience has driven his fundraising mission to give back and raise as much money as possible for Macmillan.
Steve said: “We are bikers who raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support through the common ground of an interest in motorcycling. Our flagship event is the Sunset to Sunrise bike tour but we also do street collections and have an annual teddy bear’s picnic where we take our picnic blankets and our teddy bears. Not something you’d expect from a bunch of burly bikers, but we love it!”
The Sunset to Sunrise bike tour has grown in popularly over the years, starting with just eight riders in 2008. Last year 120 motorcyclists took part, leaving Holyhead at sunset and riding through the night to Skegness in time for sunrise on the longest day of the year.
They pass through Chester, Stoke-on-Trent, Nottingham and Lincoln before arriving on the Lincolnshire coast to be greeted by the mayor.
Jamie Davenport, Macmillan Fundraising Manager for Lincolnshire, said: “There are no words to describe what Steve, Helen and the group have done for Macmillan. Their commitment to fundraising year after year has been unwavering and as a result the event has gained an incredible reputation, with people lining motorway bridges to see the group pass by. It’s an incredible sight! Their commitment has helped to fund so many vital cancer support services, so we can do whatever it takes for people living with cancer in Lincolnshire.”
To find out more or make a donation, visit the group’s Facebook page: Bikers4Macmillan