A pooch-loving company director from Ripley has raised thousands for a dog rescue charity after cycling an impressive 400 miles from France to the UK.
David Steeples, 53, from jewellery labelling firm Magpie Europe, of Park Hall Road, completed the gruelling four-and-a-half-day bike ride, aptly named ‘Paw de France’ alongside fellow dog lovers Wendy Hopwell and Dave Lovell, who he met online after discovering they all shared a passion for dogs.
They were raising money for Team Edward, a labrador dog rescue charity.
As well as his dog loving comrades David was also joined by a host of four-legged friends who accompanied the group at various stages of the charity cycle ride from the French capital, Paris, all the way to Nottingham.
The 400-mile trip began at the Eiffel Tower on Good Friday and saw them travel to Amiens through to Calais where they crossed the Channel back to England for the final leg of the ride.
Throughout the trip, the group were cheered on by supporters who lined roadsides encouraging the cyclists to keep up the good work.
They also received hundreds of well wishing messages on social media website Facebook where their journey was well documented every day for all to follow.
Not only did David enjoy the beautiful sights and scenery of France, but he was able to fulfil a long-standing family wish by visiting the grave of his great uncle who died in the First World War.
George Brassington Cresswell, born on Bamford Street, Marehay, where David currently lives, died in action on August 22, 1918, aged 22 – just two months before the end of the war. He is buried in the Albert Communal Cemetery Extension, in Albert, France, which was coincidentally on the route of the charity group’s bike ride.
David’s visit to the final resting place of his great uncle was the first time any family member had visited the grave in more than 90 years.
David said: “When I realised that the cemetery wasn’t far from where we were cycling I knew I needed to go and see it.
“I did my research online before we departed for the ride and when I actually went to visit it on the day I was amazed to find out that not only was his grave made from stone from Hopton Quarry in Derbyshire, but that his grave was the only one in the whole cemetery that had an inscription on the bottom of the headstone.
“It read Bamford Street, Marehay, Derbyshire. The street he was born on all those years ago — the street I currently live on.”
On the third day of the ride the group made their way across the English Channel and through Kent, Essex, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire before arriving at their final destination, Nottingham Market Square, where the group were met with a heroes’ welcome by a unique guard of honour from supporters and their dogs.
Since announcing their mammoth challenge months ago, Team Edward has raised an incredible £9,000, with donations still coming in.
And thanks to their efforts the Inland Revenue recently granted Team Edward charity recognition. This means the fundraisers now expect to bring in extra funds via Gift Aid donations which will see them smash their original target of £10,000.
It’s not too late to sponsor the group either. Go to www.team-edward.co.uk and press the donate button.
The money raised will go to labrador rescue and several other dogs’ charities Team Edwards backs.