Rising COVID-19 infections and the announcement of new local restrictions have resulted in St Giles Hospice having to cancel its popular Cycle St Giles Autumn bike ride this year.

The annual fundraising event, which had been adapted to take account of Coronavirus restrictions and moved back from its usual date in September, was set to take place over the weekend of 17th-18th October with more than 200 cyclists signed up to take part.

Cycle St Giles Autumn was the only organised event being run by the hospice this year following the cancellation of earlier events during lockdown. In previous years the event raised more than £30,000 to support local people and their families living with a terminal illness.

Cyclist Phil Langham (right) and riders at Cycle St Giles 2019.

Elinor Eustace, Director of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said: “We would truly like to say sorry to every one of our wonderful supporters who signed up to take part in Cycle St Giles Autumn this year. Our fundraising team did an incredible job in planning a COVID-secure event with extra measures in place to ensure the health and safety of every participant, volunteer and member of staff.

“However, as a healthcare charity working with the most vulnerable in our society we have a duty to act in a socially responsible way and we don’t feel that running a mass participation event is the right thing to do at this time with infection rates increasing and additional restrictions being enforced both locally and nationally.”

She said that this autumn’s ride had offered St Giles a glimmer of hope that it would be able to start raising funds from its traditional fundraising events again and added that the decision to cancel had not been taken lightly.

“This was a decision we hoped we would not have to make, given our current financial pressures, as fundraising events like Cycle Autumn are absolutely critical to our survival,” said Elinor. “We are also keenly aware of how much effort people have put into their training ahead of the ride.

Elinor added: “Every cyclist with a place at Cycle St Giles Autumn 2020 can request the GPX links for each of the four routes, so we hope people will still raise sponsorship and take part in the event at their own time and pace to support St Giles.

“Our ability to fundraise has been severely affected and we have never needed our community more than we do right now.”

Cyclists can also can kindly donate their place and any sponsorship raised to St Giles Hospice if they choose not to take part, or if they are unable to take part in the virtual challenge they can have their 2020 entry fee refunded.

St Giles supporter Phil Langham took part in his first Cycle St Giles event last September to thank staff for looking after his father-in-law before his death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He said: “Cycle St Giles is a great event and I was very sad to hear that it has been cancelled, especially as the hospice needs all the fundraising support it can get at the moment. However, with the current restrictions I can understand why it had to be done and I would urge participants to donate their registration fee if they are able to do so, to ensure the hospice can continue raise funds from the event.

“I support St Giles Hospice because it’s such a lovely place. My father in law felt comfortable there and the staff were really good. They always did what they could to help and the nurses were brilliant, really attentive.”

Anyone with further questions about Cycle St Giles Autumn can call the fundraising team on 01543 432538 or email fundraising@stgileshospice.com

Fundraisers still wanting to test themselves while supporting St Giles can take part in the hospice’s virtual Miles 4 St Giles challenge launched as part of Katie’s Appeal, the charity’s urgent response to the Coronavirus crisis.

People can also donate to Katie’s Appeal by making a one-off or regular monthly donation online at www.stgileshospice.com/katiesappeal or by calling 01543 432538, or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘St Giles Hospice’ to Katie’s Appeal, St Giles Hospice, Fisherwick Road, Whittington, Lichfield WS14 9LH.