Having played his vital part in bringing silverware to the Saints with their victory in the inaugural Premiership Rugby Cup at the weekend, Piers Francis will next month be switching roles and handing out the trophies in support of Northamptonshire’s biggest annual fundraising bike ride, Cycle4Cynthia, writes Anna Murby
The Franklin’s Gardens favourite, who has made an impressive return to action of late following his dislocated shoulder in the last game of 2018, will be dishing out the cups to the prizewinners from last year’s ride and helping to launch the 2019 event.
Piers, who made his debut for the Saints in October 2017 after touring Argentina with England that summer, has been a keen cyclist since he was a child and says he still loves riding his bike: “Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of the long rides I used to do with my Dad and now, when I’m not pushing weights in the gym or running at high speed towards a tackle bag, I find being on two wheels a great way to unwind away from the pressures of the rugby field” explained Piers.
“So I’m absolutely honoured to be launching this year’s ride in aid of such a fantastic charity and really pleased to be continuing the longstanding partnership between the Saints and the hospice” he added.
Indeed, Piers follows in a long line of former clubmen who have previously performed the honours, including Welsh international and British Lion George North, who was joined by his fiancée, double Olympic medal-winning cyclist Becky James, world champion Harry Mallinder and former England Saxon Christian Day, while England and Lions stars Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood have both pedalled in the ride itself.
Among the prizes Piers will be distributing are those for the most money raised by an individual at last year’s event, held at Althorp, and the Chairman’s Award, which is given in recognition of a special contribution to the ride.
In addition, the total amount raised in sponsorship will be revealed – of which every penny will go to support the invaluable work of the Hospice – while the venue for this year’s ride, taking place on Sunday 22nd September, will also be announced.
The Hospice’s fundraising manager, John Helm, says Piers’ support is a real boost: “The club has always been a great supporter of our efforts and indeed many of the players have visited the Hospice over the years to witness its amazing care for patients and their families first hand, so we’re thrilled that Piers has generously agreed to join us” said John.
“We hope that his appearance will not only prompt many of last year’s cyclists to return as we celebrate their efforts at the launch, but also encourage many more to sign up for main event in the autumn in the hope of making it a record-breaking ride!’ he enthused.
Cycle4Cynthia 2019, again being generously supported by headline sponsor EMW Law LLP, will be launched in the Heroes Bar at Franklin’s Gardens, the home of Northampton Saints, at 6.30pm on Tuesday 2nd April.
For more details of the event, including to register your attendance or to learn more about the ride’s sponsorship opportunities, please call the Hospice on 01604 210941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, to keep up to date with the latest news on the event, please visit www.cycle4cynthia.co.uk and ‘like’ the ride’s and Hospice’s page on Facebook.