A cyclist who has supported Comic Relief Vicky Meets

Fundraiser Chris Merrien

You have raised money for Comic Relief by completing an epic cycle ride. What motivated you to do this?

I know that many people have struggled in the last two years; with Covid, financial problems, health problems and all sorts.

I myself have struggled with anxiety, temporary paralysis with a condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome and unemployment in the past, so I wanted to do something to help others.

Comic Relief supports many different good causes, both here and abroad.

How did you hit on the idea of ​​a cycle ride?

I decided, after watching a program of celebrities walking a route called the Via Francigena, that I would take on the challenge. The route goes from Canterbury to Rome. I chose to cycle alone – a distance of 1,200 miles – and I did the ride in May this year.

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How much did you raise? I have raised almost £7,000 and I hope that I can raise more.

Over the years I have done lots of fundraising. I was a runner and ran marathons for charity. I also sing with St Paul’s Church choir in Chichester and we raise money too for Stonepillow.

Charities plug so many gaps. I believe that we can all do something, even small things, to make a difference.

Apart from raising money, what were the benefits of the ride?

My legs have far more muscle on them and my stamina has improved. But what really amazed me was that people were there when I really needed them.

I truly believe that there is more good in people than bad and I really experienced this. In a remote area of ​​France at the end of a long day, I was looking for a camp site to stay overnight. A lady pulled up in her car and in my broken French and her broken English we established that I was looking for accommodation.

She invited me to her home and treated me as a welcome guest. She and her husband fed me, did my washing and looked after me so kindly.

On another occasion a lady saw me looking for a camp site and read the details of my fundraising on my T-shirt.

When I arrived I found that she had called ahead and paid for my overnight stay. As well as hostels I stayed in small hotels and monasteries. I also wild camped a bit.

One night a storm was coming and a hotel with no spare rooms let me camp in their garage. On another occasion a man let me camp in his garden. People really were so kind.

The experience pushed me out of my comfort zone in quite a big way. I had planned my ferry stay over and booked a hotel in Rome, but everything in between was a blank canvas. It definitely broadened my horizons.

I’m not sure yet, but I’m a big believer in waking up with a purpose, so watch this space!

How can we donate? Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/rednoseday22-christopher-m

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