Matt Burke, 42, and his son Finley, 12, started their cycling challenge of a lifetime at the beginning of this month and will cycle 1,000 miles across Essex and neighbouring counties by the 1st September, around their work and school hours.
Fundraising for a charity wasn’t in their original plans but after much discussion, they decided they would choose a local cause to raise money for, and that’s when the idea of raising money for Little Havens came up. Matt used to live in Daws Heath, Thundersley, near where Little Havens is located and remembers the hospice being built, and his father-in-law has supported the charity in the past. Some of his close friends have had loved ones cared for by Havens Hospices, so it is a significant charity to raise funds for.
Matt and Finley have cycled around 130 miles so far this month, and are enjoying their adventure but it is also a tough challenge for them as novice cyclists and fitting the miles in around their daily lives. Matt said: “Finn has enjoyed being able to get out on his bike and venture so far away from home, and is appreciating the fresh air when we get out to the rural areas. It is tough for us, I’m overweight and very unfit, and suffer with joint and back problems, gout, and have a very demanding job which means I often work long days, sometimes seven days a week. Not a lot of spare time for a challenge like this, but this is already working well to make me spend less time at work and have more time with the family.”
Matt and Finley are being cheered on by an army of family and friends. His wife and Finley’s mum Laura, and Sharon, Matt’s mum and Finley’s grandma, have been especially encouraging on training rides, following them on the routes and cheering them on with heaps of enthusiasm and support. Matt’s friends, one a semi-professional cyclist and the other a sports masseuse, have also been offering advice.
Matt said: “We are very grateful to all who have donated and try to make sure we message everyone back. With over £1,600 already raised through JustGiving, on-route cash donations, and pledges, we are really looking forward to seeing how far this can go and how much of a difference we can make to the charity which provides exceptional care to hundreds of families across Essex. If you do see us out on the roads, please do give us a wave, it really does brighten up our day and gives us that much-needed push.”
Finley is also very grateful for the support, he said: “A very big thanks to everyone who has donated, as those donations are going to make such a big difference to so many children.”
Little Havens relies on donations from the community to fund its specialist care and support to babies, children, young people, and their families, so everyone in the community can get the most from life, and make every day count. The hospice must raise more than £83,000 a week to ensure it’s there for everybody who needs them. This care is provided completely free of charge thanks to fundraisers organised by people like Matt and Finley.
Susie May, Fundraiser at Havens Hospices, the charity which Little Havens is a part of said: “It never ceases to amaze us how generous our local communities are, helping us continue to raise vital funds which support Essex’s only children’s hospice which is a lifeline to local families, who need support during the most difficult times in their lives.
“We know how much this challenge means to Matt and Finley and, thanks to their support, Little Havens will continue to give local families more time, more opportunities to do what’s important to them, more choice, and more control over their care, supporting everyone in our community to make every day of their life count. On behalf of everybody at Little Havens, thank you and we cannot wait to celebrate your achievement once you have finished your incredible adventure in September.”
To make a donation, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bbbc2023
Follow their challenge on Instagram @burkeysbigbikingchallenge2023
To find out more about fundraising for Little Havens, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/fundraising