As professional athletes, rugby players aren’t usually allowed anywhere near alcohol, but Saints star James Grayson has been granted special dispensation in support of Northamptonshire’s favourite annual fundraising bike ride Cycle4Cynthia – the event at which he’ll be firing the starting hooter next month, writes Anna Murby.
With a glass of one of their award-winning tipples in hand, James was raising a toast to the staff at Harrington craft gin distillers, Warner’s, who are entering ‘Bike4Bedtime’, the ride’s new initiative inviting teams of four to raise £444 which, when added to their combined entry fees of £60, totals the £504 needed to pay for one day’s expert, specialist care for a patient at Cynthia Spencer Hospice’s inpatient unit.
James follows in the footsteps of singer-songwriter Curtis Stigers, England cricketer Allan Lamb and Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley in acting as celebrity starter at the ride, which this year takes place at Holdenby House on Sunday 22nd September, while some of his fellow clubmen, including Bruce Reihana, Sam Dickinson and Harry Mallinder, have also performed the role.
Having spent some time at the Hospice earlier this year, James says he’s very much looking forward to playing his special part in the event: “Back in March I was invited to visit a patient who was a massive Saints fan and it was just such a privilege to witness the amazing care and support that she and her family were receiving, so I feel honoured to have been asked to open Cycle4Cynthia.
“I’m also delighted to learn that so many people are signing up to the Bike4Bedtime challenge because every day that a team can fund will make a massive difference to the amazing Hospice staff and enable them to not only nurse more patients but also extend the services they offer through their new Wellbeing programme” he added.
So, is James as hot on two wheels as he is on the rugby pitch?
“If I’m honest, my experience of pedalling these days is really only on the static bikes in the training room but I have fond memories of cycling around Scotland on family holidays when I was child and of course Cycle4Cynthia is aimed at riders of all ages and abilities, so you don’t need to be a Geraint Thomas to take part!” said James.
“Indeed, I know from Harry’s involvement last year that it’s all about having fun while raising money for a charity that is truly deserving of our support, so I’d encourage anyone with a bicycle to sign up and join us!” he enthused.
Those are sentiments echoed by co-founder of Warner’s, Tom Warner, who, despite seeing very little action in the saddle of late, did not hesitate to get involved: “My mum passed away at the Hospice in 2014 so it’s a charity that’s very dear to our hearts and when we found out about Bike4Bedtime we thought it would be the ideal opportunity to show our support, so we’re delighted to be entering three teams and ultimately contribute over fifteen hundred pounds, and hopefully more, to this fantastic cause” explained Tom.
“Most of the guys are doing the 25 mile route but when my sales director, Jon, said he was doing the 50 miles, I felt I had to join him, but now I’m slightly worried because the last time I had my bike out was to take it for a service last summer!
“But hey, it’s not a race so I reckon I can make it back to Holdenby before it gets dark, even if I do take it gin-gerly!” he giggled.
Cycle4Cynthia 2019, again being generously supported by headline sponsor EMW Law LLP, is taking place from 9am on Sunday 22nd September at Holdenby House by kind permission of James and Karen Lowther, with 5, 25 and 50 mile routes on offer.
Entry is £15 for adults, £7.50 for children or £35 for families, rising after 2nd September.
For more information, including registering for the ride, details of corporate sponsorship opportunities or entering a Bike4Bedtime team, please visit www.cycle4cynthia.co.uk or call the Hospice on 01604 210941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, to pledge your sponsorship in support of Warner’s, please visit www.justgiving.com/Warners-Distillery
Meanwhile to keep up to date with the latest news on the event, please visit and ‘like’ the ride’s and Hospice’s pages on Facebook.