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Tydd St Mary Primary School team takes on charity challenge for British Heart Foundation in solidarity with Mr Ely





School staff took on an epic 162-mile cycle fundraiser over half term to show their support to a much-loved colleague.

And so far almost £4,000 has been raised by the intrepid quintet representing Tydd St Mary Primary School.

Teaching assistant Steve Ely suffered a heart attack while out cycling last summer and, in his honour, the school council nominated the British Heart Foundation as its national charity for the year.

The quintet prepare to set off on their journey
The quintet prepare to set off on their journey

Last week teacher Mark Spelman, teaching assistants Lauren Day and Harry Walsh, plus chair of governors Clive Browne joined Steve on the three-day cycle from the school to his childhood home in Swindon.

“We’re all really proud of what’s been achieved and the amount raised. It’s that small school community feel that everybody’s pulled together,” said headteacher Sonya Ely, who is also Steve’s wife.

“We had a huge number of parents, grandparents and children coming up to the school at half term to cheer them off.

Swindone it! The team celebrate with young supporters from the school after completing their 162-mile ride
Swindone it! The team celebrate with young supporters from the school after completing their 162-mile ride

“Mr Walsh and Mr Spelman even had to borrow a bike as they didn’t have one. But the cameraderie kept them all going.”

While Steve - who has since returned to the classsroom - took on his first major ride since last August’s heart attack, his teammates also had adversity to overcome.

Mr Spelman hadn’t cycled in 20 years while Mr Walsh was back on a bike for the first time since primary school.

The Tydd St Mary team enjoy a fun moment on their journey
The Tydd St Mary team enjoy a fun moment on their journey

After setting off from the school at 9am last Wednesday, the group completed their journey at 4pm on Friday – becoming aware their fundraising efforts were being brilliantly backed back home.

The pupils set a £1,000 target which was met on day one of the JustGiving page being launched and, at present, £3,685 has been donated.

“They’ve raised much, much more than anyone thought, so the children are all buzzing,” added Mrs Ely, who showed pictures and videos of the fundraiders to youngsters at collective worship on Monday.

Almost £4,000 has been raised for the British Heart Foundation
Almost £4,000 has been raised for the British Heart Foundation

“We’re a school of 105 children so to raise that money is fantastic.

“It shows the generosity of people in their fundraising and their actions. Neither Mark or Harry had been on a bike for many, many years.

“But I don’t think any of them are keen to get back on a bike anytime soon.”

It had been a long-held ambition of Steve’s to complete the journey to complete this home from home challenge.

After getting the all-clear from doctors, who suggested he stagger the journey over three days, he completed it with the help of his friends, plus a support team which met at checkpoints with supplies.

“They are all my heroes because they made it happen,” added Mrs Ely. “That was amazing.”

The ride was also staged to say thank you to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn and Cambridge’s Royal Papworth Hospital, who both cared for Steve.

Anyone wishing to donate can visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sonya-ely

Send your stories to us by emailing andrew.brookes@iliffepublishing.co.uk



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