Amazing group continue fight for Jack

The riders leave Fratton Park. Picture: Sarah Standing (141216-4984)
The riders leave Fratton Park. Picture: Sarah Standing (141216-4984)

Pompey go in search of their sixth win on the spin at Bury on Saturday.

Impressive going. But the biggest victory of the weekend is set to take place a couple of hours before kick off at Gigg Lane.

That’s when a group of 20 Blues fans are due to complete the biggest challenge they have, or are ever likely to, face.

These men, along with a six-strong support team, are set to finish a 300-mile-plus voyage to Greater Manchester over three days. That will be completed with arrival at their team’s final away game.

As you read this, the realisation of the size of their epic challenge, along with the rising lactic acid levels, will have hit those hardy and ever-so-slightly demented souls.

You see, these aren’t seasoned athletes undertaking this monumental challenge. They are average folk like me and you.

Average folk with anything but average ambitions.

The genesis of this journey emanated from a conversation between two men with Pompey at heart at Fans’ Day last June.

Pompey Supporters’ Trust board member Tom Dearie and SOS Pompey’s Carl Paddon went in search of a novel way to raise money to buy community shares in the club.

You would’ve thought they’d come up with an easier way than this, though.

What started as a pretty innocent exchange of ideas has soon morphed into something greater. Much greater.

The group’s cause has had much to do with that: The boy who touched a city’s heart.

Young Jack Robinson’s fight against a brain tumour moved us all.

Those taking part in the challenge, termed Ride2Bury, just knew they had to recognise that.

Jack lost his battle at the start of the month, but his spirit endures. And when the going gets tough, for those taking on the test of a lifetime, it will be his memory which drives them on.

Now 50 per cent of the money raised will be split three ways between charities associated with Jack.

Naomi House in Winchester and the ward in Southampton General Hospital where he was cared for, along with a brain tumour research charity, will benefit.

Part of the plan is to give iPads to the hospital to allow children to Face Time. They will have Jack’s name on them. And a star and crescent, of course.

With the other cash remaining true to their original plan of raising money for community shares, the group’s efforts will be diverse and far-reaching. And the depth of that impact will be quite something thanks to response they have received.

Dearie & Co originally set out to raise £10,000.

Today the figure stands at around double that and rising at quite a rate.

‘It’s staggering,’ Dearie said. ‘I’ve been pretty amazed. It far outstrips anything we hoped to achieve.’

What is also staggering is the relative inexperience of some of the group members.

Dearie didn’t even get around to buying a bike until last September – around the time he was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma.

That is echoed around the team where those taking part vary from a fire fighter to plasterer, a body builder to a 61-year-old pilot.

In the club’s community era, the way in which the group have been galvanised by a cause which had a huge impact on a city is poignant.

The greatest glory of this fantastic bunch, however, is they are simply an ordinary group doing something extraordinary.

You can follow the progress of the Ride2Bury team on Twitter 
@ride2bury and donate at their website