An award-winning transport firm from Stockport has set itself a target of raising £5,000 for The Christie charity by taking part in the annual Manchester to Blackpool bike ride, which this year will take place on 13 September.

The 13-strong team, which includes ten drivers, is led by Phil Hitchen, the boss of the Heaton Chapel-based bus and coach hire company, Belle Vue. Former Christie patient, Phil who is 54, was treated for testicular cancer in 2011 when he underwent three months of chemotherapy, before being given the all-clear.

The mixed ability team will cycle the 60 miles from Salford Quays to Blackpool’s South Promenade, taking in the leafy lanes of Lancashire. This will be the fifth time fitness fanatic Phil, who lives in Bredbury, Stockport, will have pedalled from his Greater Manchester home to the seaside resort. Unusually he also cycles back after the race, with the round trip taking about nine hours.

Commenting on the challenge, Managing Director of Belle Vue Phil Hitchen said: “I have seen first-hand the remarkable work The Christie does to save lives. All team members have been touched by cancer in some way. The annual ride I do for the charity has grown with many of our cycle to work scheme members joining the event this year. We hope to raise much needed funds for this great charity. 

With business quiet during lockdown we have focused our energy on getting fit. The lads have lost weight, built up their stamina and really got into it. We’ve done some long rides out to Cheshire as part of our training. Cycling is a great way to get your cardio vascular exercise with the gyms being closed.” 

Anyone wanting to support the Belle Vue coaches team can donate on the Belle Vue JustGiving page. The money raised will go towards a new £150m transformational research facility, with an ambition to lead the world in clinical trial recruitment. It will support the development of new and kinder cancer therapies, with the aim to change the future of cancer.

Taking place for the 29th time, and postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s event will take place on Sunday 13 September. Around 3,500 cyclists will be riding the route from MediaCity to Blackpool in a bid to raise as much money as possible to help improve cancer services in the region. Last year’s event raised more than £200,000 for The Christie charity and organisers are hoping to raise even more this year. For more information and to sign up for the event, see our Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride page.

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families. 

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England. 

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