Some 250 cyclists took to the Tarka Trail on Saturday night in North Devon’s first ever Spooky Cycle event, raising a remarkable £20,000 for Calvert Trust Exmoor.
Eager participants braved the cold in an impressive array of weird and wonderful costumes to ride their illuminated bikes and really put the ‘fun’ into fundraising for the North Devon disability charity.
With two cycling routes to choose from, the Hallowe’en weekend event was aimed at all ages and abilities and offered a healthy alternative to trick-or-treating. In total, 24 families, 25 teams and 45 individuals took part, with just over half electing to ride the 30-mile route to Torrington and back, and the remaining riders cycling the shorter route to Chivenor and back.
Entrants were requested to open a JustGiving page or seek sponsorship from friends and relatives to help raise much-needed funds for Calvert Trust Exmoor, with a prize going to the biggest fundraiser.
Event partner, Barnstaple Rugby Football Club supplied riders and non-riding supporters with hot food throughout the evening as well as a licensed bar. For those of us still clinging on to Summer, Tennacott Farm Dairy was serving luxury ice creams, and Plastic Free North Devon was on hand to top up riders’ bottles with their water bar. Local live acts The Velvet Onion, Give Way and Terry Bond provided musical entertainment alongside a range of stall holders, from Bubblekicks South West to North Devon Bat Care, amongst others. Party-goers also got to enjoy Hallowe’en themed family games, and enter a raffle with some truly fantastic prizes donated from the likes of Exeter Chiefs and celebrity chef Michael Caines.
Prizes were also awarded by the organisers for best costume, best decorated ‘lid’, and most illuminated rider.
“Thank you for organising such a great event. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and would love to take part in other events you may be planning. The children thought it was brilliant!” said Samantha Clark, one of the Spooky Cycle participants.
More than 50 volunteers, from ghost riders and marshals to games hosts and stall holders, donated their time to help ensure the event was a success, with particular help from local Rotarians who marshalled both routes.
Hosted by the Calvert Trust Exmoor’s Fundraising team, the Spooky Cycle event was kindly sponsored by Isca Barum Insurance Brokers and The Big Lottery Fund, with support from Barnstaple Rugby Football Club and Devon County Council, as well as Nationwide Building Society, Lineal, and Jewsons Pottington Branch amongst others.
As well as promoting the Spooky Cycle in the weeks prior, official radio partner The Voice FM brought the event to life with their spooky music, compering, a pre-cycle warm-up and spooky entertainment on the start & finish line. They also presented each and every rider with their Spooky Cycle medal as they crossed the finish line.
Lisa Palmer, one of the spooky cyclists tweeted: “Brilliant time at the #spookycycle race today. Already deciding what to wear next year!”
Event organiser Daisy Hockin said, “We have been overwhelmed with the support from the local community and generosity of local businesses. Thanks to all the places that stayed open for us along the routes, and special thanks to Torrington Cycle Hire! I can’t wait to get next year’s event into the diary.”
It’s not too late to contribute to Spooky Cycle fundraising via one of the riders’ JustGiving pages here: https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/SpookyCycle2018Team
If you can spare a few hours a week and would like more information about volunteering opportunities at Calvert Trust Exmoor, contact: email@example.com
Photo credits: Simon Ellery / Calvert Trust Exmoor
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the following individuals and organisations for all their help towards the Spooky Cycle >>>
Bideford Bridge Rotary Club
Barnstaple Link Rotary Club
Bideford Tarka Rotary Rotary Club
Barnstaple Rotary Club
The Rotary Club of Braunton Caen
Barnstaple Inner Wheel
Calvert Trust Exmoor
Indoor musical entertainment:
The Velvet Onion
Prizes and raffle prizes donated:
2 Exeter Chiefs Official tickets
2 Somerset County Cricket Club tickets
£100 voucher for The Farmers Arms Woolsery
2 North Devon Show tickets
2 tickets to Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
2 carveries at The Westleigh Inn
2 18 holes at Portmore Golf Park
2 18 holes at Royal North Devon Golf Courseolf Course
A signed Michael Caines cookbook
Dracula’s Delight relish and chutneys from Pivnita Bunicii
2 tickets for The BIG Sheep Family Attraction
2 tickets for Quince Honey Farm
Bundle from Thatchers Cider
Voucher for Runway Hair Salon
Vouchers for Funderzone Barnstaple
Vouchers for Crazy Golf in Woolacombe
Cream tea for 2 at Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel
Shirt from Madison Genesis Cycling Team
Calvert Trust Exmoor welcomed TV host Anneka Rice back to the centre last week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the boathouse that was constructed by the Challenge Anneka team in 1993.
The ‘Boathouse’ episode of the popular 90s television show, which was aired on BBC One, saw the indomitable television presenter and her team challenged by two West Buckland School pupils to convert a derelict cattle barn into a fully-accessible boathouse within just two days.
Siblings, Ben and Amber Gatehouse from North Devon wrote to the BBC television programme in 1992 to appeal for the new boathouse facility, including critical improvements to access so that anyone with any disability could get out onto the lake and go sailing.
25 years on, Ben said: “We truly hope our letter written naively to Anneka has and will continue to be an asset to the Trust in providing life-changing outdoor activity breaks. We still remember vividly the shock and surprise of Anneka walking into our school assembly. At the time we were amazed by the local businesses’ willingness to help a great cause in such a short time frame.”
Hampered by Devon’s typical heavy downpours and patchy phone signal, the 72-hour construction challenge made for edge-of-seat viewing as the team approached the deadline and completed the project just in time to celebrate with a regatta on Wistlandpound Reservoir, where the Boathouse remains in service today.
Anneka: “I remember being bowled over by the beauty on that final day when we’d gone through all the rain and the project was completed, there was a wonderful regatta, the sun came out and we all had lumps in our throats just seeing all those smiling faces.”
Anneka’s return last week was rather more leisurely-paced as she walked the original zig-zag path down to the boathouse and explored the extensive facilities that have been added since 1993. “It’s quite emotional seeing it again. A couple of decades on (and the rest), it’s still going strong. It’s amazing!”
The Calvert Trust Exmoor team was delighted to welcome Anneka back to the Centre a quarter of a century on, including Lady Acland who has been a Trustee of the charity for many years and remembers the boathouse challenge fondly: “It all went very quickly as far as I can remember…frightfully quickly.”
September 2018 marked exactly 25 years since the first broadcast of the boathouse challenge, the results of which have stood the test of time and remain in full use today. Ben and Amber, who still live locally, have both spent time volunteering at the Calvert Trust and also completed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh residentials with the charity.
Following her return visit Anneka, who looks virtually the same as she did in 1993, tweeted, “25 years slipped away! I’m so thrilled that the centre has gone from strength to strength.”
There are several calls across social media for the task-based 90s television programme to return to our screens.
Celebrity guide dog, Kika and her owner, Amit Patel were treated to a weekend of activities at Calvert Trust Exmoor.
The Trust was delighted to be presented with a cheque last month by a group of entertainers from Stogumer, North Somerset.