117 – Source of the Severn Challenge

Thursday, 9th to Saturday, 11th July 2015

Photos by Lyn and Colleen Gauntlett and Leon Jones.  Left click on images to enlarge.

From the source of the River Severn and steep slopes of Plynlimon, across the mid Wales hills to Shrewsbury, up hill and down dale through Shropshire including Ironbridge gorge, to Bridgenorth, Stourport-on-Severn to Worcester and Tewkesbury and then on the third day to Gloucester, Sheerness and Slimbridge before crossing the Severn Bridge to come home to a rapturous welcome at the Choir Hall cycling choristers and friends of Côr Meibion Caldicot Cycling Club endured this epic 210 mile, 3 day journey to raise funds for its chosen charities Sparkle and Annalese Gosling.


Sparkle is a Newport based charity based at the Serennu Centre in Newport which aims to provide additional support for severely disabled children and those with learning difficulties to enjoy and experience a life enjoyed by the majority of young people.  It funds a cinema club, social activities, physiotherapy and a hydrotherapy centre at High Cross and also provides support for the children’s families.  These facilities are not provided by the NHS or the local authorities.  The Serennu Centre at High Cross is the only centre of its kind in Britain which provides all the care the children and their families of Newport, south Monmouthshire and parts of Torfaen need under one roof.


Annalese Gosling is a five year old Caldicot youngster who benefits from the resources provided by the Serennu centre and Sparkle.  Annalese suffers from the incurable disease FOP (Fibrodisplasia Ossifans Progressiva) which means that if she is injured her body replaces damaged tissue with bone.  This creates the growth of a second skeleton which will enventually encase her body in a second skeleton. The choir’s aim is to raise the £4500 needed to provide her with a custom made bed to reduce her risk of injury and to provide suitable support for her as she sleeps.


Thirteen members of the club, together with a support team of seven choristers in their vehicles, made their way by bus on July 8th to spend the night at Llanidloes on the edge of the river bank, some 10 miles from the source of the Severn above Hafren forest on the slopes of Plynlimon where they got as close to the source of the Severn as they could to enjoy a cooling paddle in the waters newly sprung from the depths of the earth.  The following morning saw the intrepid cyclists make their way along 60 miles of winding roads through picturesque Newtown and Welshpool before arriving at Montford Bridge near Shrewsbury to spend the second night on the banks of the Severn, now 10 metres wide.


The second day of riding proved incredibly hard and difficult as the riders endured searing heat to ride the challenging 85 mile route along the B roads of Shropshire, up hill and down dale through the industrial revolution gorge of Ironbridge and Coalport, the arduous energy sapping climbs of the Shropshire hills to Bridgenorth and then on through Worcestershire to Stourport, Worcester and finally arriving exhausted after 10 hours of riding at Dawley’s campsite near Tewkesbury to a very welcome fish and chip supper.  Many were in bed, exhausted by 9-30.


At Tewkesbury they were joined by chorister Spike Hughes and 13 friends for the final 55 mile ride back to Caldicot via Gloucester Quays before riding on along the picturesque Sheerness gravel canal bank to Slimbridge for lunch.  A brief stop at the ancient White Hart pub in Littleton for light refreshments (coffee maybe) was enjoyed by all before the final crossing back into Wales over the Severn Bridge before returning to the Choir Hall via Mathern (the Miller’s Arms) and the Caldicot levels.


The riders and support teams were greeted to a rapturous welcome by over 100 supporters and their families at the choir hall as they made their triumphant, flag waving entrance into the car park.  Many riders were reduced to near tears as they saw the size of the welcome received and the support is greatly appreciated.


Many stayed to enjoy the welcome pork roast reception made possible by the cycle club sponsors; Hire One, Prosteel, Reliance Water Systems and Jaga Brothers transport for whom the club is extremely  grateful.  The evening was made more special by the entertainment provided by about twenty members of the Magor based The Serenata Ladies Choir.  This newly formed choir has recently performed its first Annual concert at Caldicot Methodist Church and delighted our audience with  the quality of their singing and choice of songs.  We have invited them to be our guest artistes at next years Gala Concert.  Food, water and other supplies for the ride were provided by Tesco (Chepstow), Asda, Richelds Pharmacy, Sean Ford at the market, Gregg’s and a voucher from Waitrose.


Côr Meibion Cycle Club and Caldicot Male Voice Choir are rightly proud of its charity fund raising efforts through many years and we hope you can support us in our events and concerts throughout the rest of the year.  We are of course grateful to all who have shown their support by sponsoring the cyclists on this epic journey and to our sponsors and supporters who have made this possible.


Many thanks to to all those who set up the hall for the evening, the bar staff of Wyn and Lee and all those who cleaned up afterwards.


3 day Riders:  Choristers: Alyn Dawe, Chris Nolan, Leon Jones, Tony Griffiths, Grahame Morton, Karl Gregory, Stephen Davies, Russ Woodward

Guests: Bob Stevenson, Nick Powell, Nathan Finney, Greg Tinker, Steve Tobin

Tewkesbury to Caldicot:

Choristers:  Spike Hughes,

Guests:  Kirstie Benjamin, Sue Earnshaw, Carolyn Griffiths, Tracy Eastabrook, Kenneth Dann, Adrian Brooks, Rhys Jones, Diane Potter, Mike Griffiths,  Shane Carey and Lorraine Leahy.


Support Teams:

Ron Powell, Richie Llewellyn, Peter Williams, Roger Matthews, Dave Currie, Dave Kirton, John MacArthur, Lyn Gauntlett, Colleen Gauntlett.


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