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Wooden Spoon Sussex take on ‘Tour de Sussex’

Cyclists, young and old, took to the roads in October to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Wooden Spoon in Sussex.

The aim of the Tour de Sussex cycle ride was to visit 17 of the 18 projects funded by Wooden Spoon Sussex Spoon since 2006, and to open a new one. But there was an unexpected bonus – supporters gave more than £4,500 in sponsorship towards future projects.

The three day ride was the idea of Sussex Spoon’s Chairman, Bob Rogers, and Spoon Committee member Alan Jenkins took on the task of organising it.

“This is our 10th Anniversary and we are excited and proud to be celebrating donating over £300,000 to 19 special needs projects in Sussex during the past 10 years. We broke fresh ground by cycling a route that linked all our projects while at the same time raising funds for new ventures. However, perhaps I should confess that, in a desperate bid to avoid wearing Lycra, my wife Elaine and I were on holiday for the Tour itself!” said Alan.

He added “Every penny we raise in Sussex is spent in Sussex on life-changing capital projects to benefit and support disadvantaged and disabled children living in the county.”

A total of 14 cyclists aged 23 to 75 took part over the three days with seven riders cycling each day, backed by two support vehicles. The baton, a wooden spoon, attached to Bob Rogers’ handlebars, was moved between the projects.

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Three riders, Bob, Richard Hopkins, President of Hove Rugby Club, and Jo Clarke, an international tri-athlete working at Spoon HQ, cycled on all three days. Other riders joined them for one or two days.

The team visited projects between Chichester and Hastings and covered a total of 127 miles with no punctures, no accidents and only a few strange incidents; one rider somehow managed to catch his laces in his cycle chain, at one project a dog ran off with a cycle helmet and one rider’s bike required manual gear changing at the bottom of every hill. The only navigational error, by Bob, resulted in a 12 degree hill, the steepest of the whole tour, having to be taken twice! James Harding commented after the first ascent that having practised it the team should be able to ride up it with ease.

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The support minibus broke down during the first day, but supporting cars covered the cyclists needs.

The only other problem was the wind. The course had been designed to take in the 18 projects and ensure a following wind in line with the prevailing south westerly. However for the three days of the tour the wind changed direction and riders faced a strong headwind every day. This was particularly challenging along the coastal roads and paths from Pevensey to Hastings and from Ferring to Shoreham towards the end of Days 1 and 3 respectively.
Jo Clarke was (King) Queen of the Mountains on Days 1 & 2. Unlike the numerous undulations on the first two days, except for railway bridges, there were no hills on Day 3.

Highlights of the trip included the opening by Bob Rogers of Sussex Spoon’s 19th project, a new basic construction skills workshop at Cornfield School, Littlehampton, and a presentation by James Harding to Cumnor House School, Danehill, of a framed rugby jersey, worn by him at the North Pole during Wooden Spoon’s Arctic Challenge World Record Rugby match. The school had very generously raised £25,750 in support of Sussex Spoon.

Bob Rogers, who led the ride throughout, said: “Alan Jenkins is to be congratulated for his superb planning for the event. Peter Knight and Sandy Fleming were brilliant in supporting the cyclists with water and flapjack at regular places and seeing Peter standing at strategic points checking us all through with his clipboard in hand was a welcoming sight.

“Alex Pincus, Ann Holt and Peter Harbidge provided an advance party at each project stop so that everyone was ready for the arrival of the Wooden Spoon baton and the band of cyclists.”

At every project stop there was a very warm and enthusiastic welcome and refreshments. Contacts were renewed and photographs taken.

Jai Purewal, who joined the ride for Day 2 said: “Wonderful event, a fitting way to celebrate the fantastic milestone of 10 years of Wooden Spoon Sussex. It was great to see the projects still going strong, stirring smiles and changing lives.”

The cyclists who took part were:
Bob Rogers, Richard Hopkins, Jo Clarke, Richard Tibbott, Mel Cook, Nigel Richards, Steve Dunnill, Jai Purewal, James Harding, Janet Rogers, Graham Nicholas, Malcolm McNeil, John and Kate Jefferson.

The 18 Projects visited during the three days were:
– Outdoor Play Areas at Patcham House School (Brighton), Hazel Court School (Eastbourne), FSN St Leonards, Woodlands Meed School (Burgess Hill), Step by Step School (East Grinstead) & St Anthonys School (Chichester).
– Sensory Rooms/Facilites at St Johns College (Seaford), Manor Green College (Crawley), QE II School (Horsham), Autism Centre (Bognor) & Oak Grove School (Worthing).
– Enhanced Accesses at Brighton Youth Centre & The Springboard Project (Horsham).
– Re-Fitted Kitchen at Whoopsadaisy (Brighton), a day centre for babies and children with cerebral palsy and other motor conditions.
– Living Skills Room at Chailey Heritage, Construction Skills Workshop at Cornfield School (Littlehampton), Visitor Pavilion at Ferring Country Centre and Disabled Adapted Sailing Dinghy at Sussex Sailability (Shoreham).