The new CEO at St Giles Hospice is starting as he means to go on after joining cyclists at the charity’s annual Cycle Spring fundraising bike ride on Sunday, 8 May.
Interim Chief Executive Officer Andrew Harkness, a pharmacist and experienced NHS executive director, took up his new role last week and set off on the 77-mile cycle alongside St Giles’ Chair of The Board of Trustees, Robin Vickers.
He said that taking part in Cycle Spring was the perfect way to introduce himself to staff, volunteers and supporters, as well as play his part in helping to raise the vital funds needed each year to keep the hospice running.
“St Giles is a wonderful organisation and I’m honoured and delighted to have taken part in Cycle Spring in my new role as its CEO,” he said. “Our Cycle Spring and Autumn events play a huge part in raising the funds that St Giles needs to support its care services and as soon as I joined the hospice I wanted to join in and play my part.
“Cycle Spring attracts hundreds of riders from across the region and I’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s event. Its continuing success is down to the fantastic goodwill of our wonderful supporters and our dedicated hospice volunteers who turn out to help make sure that our events run like clockwork.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my ride through the beautiful Staffordshire countryside and the community spirit of everyone involved was truly inspiring – I’m looking forward to taking part in more fundraising events over the coming months.”
Starting from 7.30am, 509 riders set off to enjoy one of three different routes through the countryside – with 27-mile, 50-mile, and 77-mile distances catering for cyclists of all ages and abilities. All of the rides began and ended at the Whittington hospice.
Zoe Wright, Events Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “Cycle Spring had a fantastic atmosphere this year and it was great to see our new CEO getting involved. We were also heartened to watch everyone getting back in the saddle after having to cancel our events in 2020 and make changes in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As usual, we couldn’t have done it without the expert help of Freedom Cycles, Rugeley Bicycle Repairs and BikeBOT who helped our riders to deal with any last-minute mechanical issues.”
She added that this year’s Cycle Spring has so far raised almost £35,000.
“If you weren’t able to make it to Cycle Spring this year – or enjoyed your ride so much that you want to take part again – then don’t forget to sign up for Cycle Autumn, which will be taking place on Sunday 11th September,” said Zoe.
“And if you are thinking of coming along we’d also ask you to consider raising sponsorship, as the entry fee only covers the event’s administration costs, so all funds raised on top of this make a real difference to the services we can provide for patients and their families who are living with a terminal illness.
“A donation of £40 could pay for an hour of our advice and referrals team, £202 could pay for visits to a patient in their own home by our community nurses, and £676 could pay for 24 hours of hospice care for a patient at the end of their life.