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Three hospice dads set to ride to the rugby

In the height of Rugby World Cup excitement, three super-dads have signed up to an epic 280-mile cycle from Cardiff to Dublin to watch Ireland vs. Wales in the 2020 Rugby Six Nations — all for the hospice that cares for their life-limited children.

The ‘Ride to the Rugby’ fundraiser will see over 40 riders taking on a challenging cycling route over four days, from the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on February 4  to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, just in time to watch Ireland kick off against Wales on February 9.

The three dads, James Meacham, Patrick Lord and Matthew Smith, whose children have been supported by Tŷ Hafan, will be powering up their pedalling prowess over the next couple of months to raise money for the children’s hospice.

James Meacham, from Blackwood, is a bereaved dad who will be riding in memory of son, Thomas, who died just a couple of months ago with an ultra rare genetic life-limited condition called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) that affects just one in 18,000 people. He explained:

“Signing up for this challenge wasn’t even a question. Tŷ Hafan was there for Thomas every step of the way. The care and support we received as a family, even when we weren’t there, was incredible.

“The hospice introduced me to support networks and social groups where dads, who were all experiencing similar hardship, could get together and talk; it was suddenly like being given a comfort blanket. It also gave me the opportunity to meet other families who wanted to get involved in challenges to support the hospice together.”

James Meacham was the only dad to take part in 2019’s Six Nations ‘Ride to the Rugby’ challenge from Cardiff to Paris in February and alone raised over £6,000. But now, he will be joined by two more Tŷ Hafan dads who are taking part, as well as some friends and family members.

James added, “The ‘Ride to the Rugby’ Paris challenge back in February was such a fantastic experience — it was tough but so rewarding. I made life-long friendships and cycled alongside the likes of Wynne Evans and Rupert Moon which, as you can imagine, was a brilliant laugh. I didn’t think twice about signing up again when Tŷ Hafan launched the Dublin challenge, and got three others to sign up with me too!

“Even now, I don’t know where I’d be without Tŷ Hafan. It feels like part of a club you don’t want to be in. I’ll always continue to support and fundraise for them because I want to make sure that children and families, similar to us, can continue receiving the invaluable support that we had.”

Tŷ Hafan is hoping that the challenge will raise over £40,000 which will go towards providing vital lifeline services to the children and families who need it most, enabling them to share new experiences and create memories as they face the toughest challenge of their lives.

Tŷ Hafan’s Head of Events, Sali Thomas, explained:

“The ‘Ride to the Rugby’ challenge to Paris back in February was so successful we had to do it again in 2020. We had participants who were experienced cyclists and others who had never ridden a road bike before, and that’s the great thing about it – anyone can take part.

“If you sign up to the event, Tŷ Hafan will support you every step of the way by giving you fundraising advice as well as training tips. The individual fundraising target is £1,200 which also covers the costs of accommodation for five nights, all meals on route, a fully-supported ride, branded training and event shirts, the ferry crossing and return transport, plus the all-important ticket to the game.”

For more information and to sign up to ‘Ride to the Rugby’ Dublin 2020, contact Sali Thomas at [email protected] or 02920 532 279. Also, visit: www.tyhafan.org/ride-to-the-rugby.