Chilworth family riding from Gretna Green to John O’Groats for charity

A local family of Sunday afternoon cyclists have challenged themselves to ride the length of Scotland to help a charity which has greatly supported a close relative.

The McKenzie family are really going up a gear to complete the 470 miles from Gretna Green to John O’Groats.

Karen and Kenny McKenzie and their children Ellis (15) and Calum (13), from Chilworth near Guildford are driven on by wanting to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

The Trust campaigns to raise money to help fund research and supports clinical trials into new drugs which have “massively benefitted” their relative, who’s now aged over 50. That relative’s life has been extended far beyond what was expected when they were first diagnosed, said Kenny, 49, an IT consultant.

Mum Karen said: “Our family has seen the effects of cystic fibrosis for years. During lockdown we’ve done online quiz nights including our relative in Scotland who has the condition. Cystic fibrosis primarily involves the lungs and our relative has been stuck at home, shielding, since March.”

Kenny said his family was all booked for the big cycle when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “We thought about postponing the ride until next year, but all charities are struggling for funds because of lockdown, so we decided to go ahead.

“Fortunately nearly all the B&B bookings we’d made along the route can still have us,” he said.

“The kids are old enough now for a proper, exciting challenge for the four of us. We’re all fit and healthy. We’re more than capable of doing the daily distance [an average of 40 miles] but we’ve never done that, back to back for a long time. It’s definitely going to stretch all of us.”

The family cycle off on 29th July and hope to finish in 12 days. They’ll be following national cycle networks, many of them away from normal roads. Some are built over old train routes.

Karen said: “We’re just a typical family of four who do an hour’s bike ride at the weekend. On the trip wind and rain will be our enemy and slow us down. But we are all up for it.”

Karen will drive the family car for some parts of the journey to shuffle the bikes to and from the route. Bailey their black Labrador will be with her, posting regular ‘pup’ dates on the Just Giving donations page. Ellis and Calum are pupils at Duke of Kent School, Ewhurst.

The family says the Trust also helps with practical, day to day tasks like enabling people with cystic fibrosis to do their lung function tests at home rather than hospital during the pandemic.

To help with the McKenzies’ fundraising visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mckenzie-k

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