Two brothers raised in Blackpool are coming 'home' today for the culmination of a gruelling charity cycle ride.
Richard and Michael Johnson are among a group of fundraisers who set off from the Eiffel Tower last Sunday with the aim of reaching Blackpool Tower on Friday afternoon (July 5).
Michael, a former pupil of Arnold School who now lives in Somerset, organised the trip to coincide with his 50th birthday – and a family party of set to follow the climax, with Richard's twin brother James from St Annes and parents Derek and Dorothy set to greet their arrival on the Promenade.
Richard, 54, attended Baines School in Poulton before leaving Fylde in 1983 to study medicine in Cardiff and is now clinical director and senior surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital in South Wales.
The brothers are joined on the 500-ride by friends Michael Brace from Bridgend, where Richard lives and works, Phil Rotheram and Barry Young from Chesterfield and Richard Onions from Portsmouth, with the aim to raise as much cash as possible for the Warwickshire-based charity Molly Olly's Wishes.
The charity was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and Richard's aim to help it came after he met Tim through their association with the International Socca Federation – organiser of international small-sided football competitions.
Richard has previously got on his bike to tackle the Arch to Arc (Marble Arch to The Arc de Triomphe) London to Paris cycle ride and a six countries in three days challenge but he says this is his biggest cycling test yet.
He said: “My brother organises a riding challenge every two years and, for his 50th year we thought we should do something different.
"Originally we were finishing in Paris, but felt for this we should finish in our home town and then have a birthday party – despite the fact people say we are cycling uphill to Blackpool!
"I am very proud to be raising money for such an important charity.”
Tim Ollerenshaw, who joined the group for one leg of the trip, said: “All the team at Molly Olly’s are immensely grateful for this wonderful effort by Richard and his fellow cyclists. Donations received enable us to support the lives of children with life threatening illnesses and their families. "
The Johnsons' dad Derek is a retired GP who was a well-known face at the Broadway Practice in Fleetwood for many years. He and Dorothy live in South Shore.
Brother James, who owns an accountancy firm in St Annes, said: "We are really proud of their charity effort and are really looking forward to greeting them when they arrive in Blackpool and celebrating Michael's 50th."
The Molly Olly's Wishes charity has raised more than £2m since its formation and last year funded the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly the Brave pack that has now been handed out to 40 hospitals across the UK along with a book from its exclusive Olly The Brave series.
Donations can be made via https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardJohnson28