Irish Cricket’s Big Bike Ride raises almost £30k

October 16th 2012 by Cricket Ireland | International

Irish Cricket’s Big Bike Ride raises almost £30k

The lads having finished their epic journey © Cricket Ireland/Barry Chambers

It may have been the toughest thing Gary Wilson and William Porterfield have ever done but every one of their 380-mile charity bike ride from Cork to Belfast paid handsome dividends.

The coffers of Cancer Research UK are now better off to the tune of almost £30,000: put another way …. almost £80 a mile.

The five day push took them from Cork to overnights in Kilkenny, Dublin, Armagh, Derry-Londonderry and finally to Belfast where they were greeted by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Gavin Robinson.  And it was money-raising all the way thanks to people’s generosity north and south of the border.

Cork County Cricket Club was the first host for the two Irish internationals at the Mardyke, followed by the Cricket Writers’ of Ireland annual dinner at Malahide CC and a social evening at Bready CC. And as they pushed north, the annual dinner of the Northern Cricket Union saw the Union and guests put their hands in their pockets.

But most touching of all were the children of the National Primary School in Balrothery. Fellow international John Mooney suggested a visit to his old school where the pupils were allowed to wear sports tops for the day - if they were prepared to pay a fine of two euros! They did so to the tune of 720 euros after which the supremely fit Mooney hopped on his bike to accompany his mates all the way to Armagh.

The whole shebang ended the way it deserved to with a money-spinning dinner at Belfast’s Europa Hotel. A host of auction and ballot items went like hotcakes - for example two passes for every England and Surrey game at the Kia Oval next summer, including the final Ashes Test, fetched £2,200.

For Wilson and Porterfield it’s been gruelling to say the least and for Wilson there’s been more than a touch of emotion. The two best mates understood the bike in memory of Gary’s mother who passed away earlier in the year.

“I think everyone’s family has been touched by the disease and I guess that’s why everyone has been so generous,” he says. “I am so grateful to the very many people who contributed - and, of course, particularly to William. His was a mark of true friendship.”

And there was friendship from one of the world stars of international cricket, India’s Yuvrai Singh. In a special message he wote:
“I am delighted to send my very best wishes to my friends from the Irish Cricket Team , Gary Wilson and William Porterfield. They are have taken on a great challenge in cycling across Ireland to raise funds for such a vital cause. Having fought and survived cancer myself I know just how important the fundraising is and I think that Gary and William’s Big Bike Ride is a brilliant way to highlight the cause and raise money for those fighting cancer. All the very best from India, Your Friend Yuvraj Singh.’

The two men had special thanks for the President of Cricket Ireland, Arthur Vincent, who sat on the committee which helped organise the campaign.

And at the dinner they made special presentations to four friends who travelled the journey with them - albeit on four wheels!

Cricket Ireland’s Conditioning and Fitness Coach, Brendan Connor, kept them on their bikes; Porterfield’s old university pal Tim Smalley knows all there’s to know about bikes and kept the wheels turning; Irish team manager Roy Torrens rode shotgun in a camper van which catered for every conceivable need and next year’s Cricket Ireland President, Robin Walsh, kept in touch with the media.

The two cricketers now have a decent rest from their county commitments at Surrey and Warwickshire.

Both agreed - they’ll need it!

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