The brother of a woman who lost her life to multiple sclerosis has begun his epic 50-day solo cycling challenge in memory of his sister following video messages of support from three celebrities.
Kenny Smith hopes to raise £50,000 from the ‘solo and unsupported’ 2,655 mile long challenge around mainland Britain, for the MS Trust, which he started in the centre of Chichester on Wednesday, June 12. Read more here
Aldingbourne dad Kenny is planning to get back to Chichester in time for what would have been his sister’s 50th birthday on July 31.
He said: “My sister Kathleen was diagnosed with MS back in 1990, aged just 21. She coped well for many years and never let it get her down.”
After Kathleen died in the autumn of 2014, Kenny ‘vowed to keep her name alive’ through fundraising for the MS Trust, from running marathons to climbing Everest and Kilimanjaro and jumping out of planes.
Kenny said his 50-day cycle will be the ‘biggest challenge’ he has ever undertaken ‘physically, emotionally and mentally’.
He added: "I wanted to take this on because the MS Trust is a fantastic charity that really goes above and beyond to help those living with and those affected by MS. It’s a relatively small UK charity doing a massive job, and I’ve witnessed first-hand the difference they make for not only those living with MS, but also the help, advice and support they give to families too.”
Kelly Boston, community fundraiser at the MS Trust, said Kenny is a ‘true hero’.
She added: “We are so grateful to Kenny for taking on such an incredible challenge in aid of the MS Trust. We know his sister Kathleen would have been very proud.”
Kenny has received video clips of support from celebrities Davina McCall, Tom Odell and Mark Beaumont, which Kelly said was ‘amazing’.
English television presenter Davina McCall said it will be 'profoundly moving' to see Kenny finish the challenge on his sister's birthday. She added: "I am sure she is carrying you along the way just like my sister did in my Sports Relief challenge. Good luck with everything and I'm sending you a big hug."
Scottish cyclist Mark Beaumont, who holds the record for cycling round the world after completing his 18,000-mile route on 18 September 2017 in less than 79 days, said: "It is going to be beautiful [but] brutal. I know because I've ridden it. I'm sure a lot of people are going to support you en route."
Tom Odell said: "I want to wish the best of luck to Kenny, who is going on an epic bike ride around the UK in memory of his sister Kathleen. I hope everyone can donate to the MS Trust. Best of luck Kenny and I hope you have an amazing journey."
Kenny, who has so far raised £10,401, will head west from Chichester along the coast via Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Exmouth to Lands End and will then travel up through Truro and Bude over the Severn Bridge and into Wales, where he will head to Mount Snowdon- the first of the three National highest peaks in the UK. He plans to climb en route, leaving his bike at the foot of each mountain.
He will then head over the River Mersey through Liverpool and along to Blackpools Golden Mile and then onto the mountainous landscape of Scotland.
Speaking in July last year, he added: “One part I’m really looking forward to is riding into Letchworth, the home of the Multiple Sclerosis Trust where I’m sure it will be emotional.
“From Letchworth the ride will then take me through London down towards Dover and then along the coast through Hastings and Brighton and back to Chichester, but not before riding through my parents’ home village of Boxgrove and a visit to Kathleen’s grave."