Fundraiser Stuart pays tribute to two bike legends

Gary Dunlop with Stuart Bratt on the night before the off.
Gary Dunlop with Stuart Bratt on the night before the off.

THE local cycling fraternity has gave a fitting send off to an intrepid charity fundraiser Stuart Bratt as he set off from Ballymoney last week on a Ballymoney to Coriano Challenge to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, the Joey Dunlop Foundation and the Marco Simoncellie Foundation.

These three charities close to the heart of the Englishman. In 2009 he set off on his first cycle as he rode from his home in Bridgnorth to La Rochelle in France to raise money for his friend’s son, Adam Beddard, who was seriously ill with cancer. Sadly Adam lost his fight with cancer, but Stuart was able to doante £5,000 to the Teenage Cancer Trust, who had helped the young man so much during his illness.

In memory of Adam, Stuart decided to repeat the challenge to La Rochelle the following year, only this time against the clock. Then Stuart came up with the idea of a Le Mans style event where he cycled straight for 24 hours. This was followed with an increase of ambition whereby Stuart headed over to Vietnam to cycle from Saigon to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, along the Mekong River in humidity of 85%.

Stuart started to think what he could do next. As a big Marco Simoncelli fan he was keen to do something in his memory. A visit to the Isle of Mann TT left him in awe of our very own Joey Dunlop and so an idea was starting to take shape to cycle between the two legends’ home towns.

Robert Downes and Mark Walker representing The Causeway Cycle Club from Coleraine who happily agreed to lead him in on the last section of his 470 mile prologue journey to get him to the start line. Stuart was likewise introduced to Maurice McAllister representing the Ballymoney Cycling Club who was also happy to wave him off and give him some advice on his route on the continent.

Both cycle clubs presented Stuart with club jerseys that in turn Stuart will present, on their behalf, to the Simoncelli Foundation. In addition they also supported the fund raising efforts by making donations.

Before setting off from Joey’s Bar Stuart had the opportunity to meet Joey’s wife Linda and children Donna and Gary. He asked Linda what she thought Joey would have said about his cycle challenge, smiling Linda replied, “He’d probably have wished you all the best.” Donna was standing beside Linda at the time and quickly added, “He’d probably have gone with you!”

No better comments could have been given to a man about to set out to cross the Alps on a push bike. A bike that fully loaded weighs just about as much as the trunk of one of Hannibal’s elephants! Anyhow, the comments put a massive smile on Stuart’s face and gave him a tremendous boost, as it was almost like Joey was going too!

All the money raised from the cycle is going direct to the three charities connected to the men being remembered. Anyone wishing to make a donation should: For Teenage Cancer Trust it’s: www.justgiving/stuartbratt or text BCCC58 to 70070 to donate £10. For The Joey Dunlop Foundation it’s: www.justgiving/stuartbratt3 or text JOEY68 to 70070 to donate £10. For The Marco Simoncelli Foundation go to www.marcosimoncellifondazione.it