When Clive Hamilton, our Vice-Chair, came to us with an idea for an outdoor event, we loved it so much we knew we had to be a part of it! So we gathered our multi-talented team and set to work on our next steps. Armed with a bold plan and relentless enthusiasm, we conjured up a whirlwind adventure that became our biggest, most successful fundraising event in 2022. And it quickly set in motion a new tradition at Woody’s Lodge.
The Cardiff to Paris Charity Cycle Ride, our first-ever charity cycle, saw us venturing into the beautiful countryside over 5 days, cycling through charming English and French towns until we reached our final stop in the breathtaking city of Paris.
Fun with a purpose
This was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for our participants, offering the chance to embrace the great outdoors, get fit, challenge themselves, meet like-minded people, build friendships, and create everlasting memories.
Graham Jones, our CEO, said the following:
“As you may know, we at Woody’s Lodge love to have fun while making a difference, and this event was no exception. Our journey saw us paying respects to those who lost their lives in the Army, Navy, and Air Force during the Great War and Second World War. In the build-up to the event, we hoped to raise enough funds to continue supporting our brave Welsh Veterans in communities all over the nation.
“That’s why I’m overjoyed to say that The Cardiff to Paris Charity Cycle Ride exceeded our expectations, helping us raise significantly more funds than we aimed for!”
Smashing our target
Our fundraising goal for the cycle was set at £70k. To achieve this, we reached out to you for assistance. Whether you donated directly to our funding page or started your fundraiser to support the cause, so many of you answered the call, and guess what? We smashed the target by more than £15k, raising just over £85,000! A huge thanks to every one of you who contributed. Your support goes a long way in helping us provide veterans and their families with quality services, facilities, and a whole lot more.
Massive support from The Welsh Ambulance Service
The Welsh Ambulance Service was a big supporter of our first-ever cycle event. They committed their Cycle Response Unit vehicle and two members of staff to support the cyclists with technical and practical assistance on their journey to Paris. This support was made possible with the backing of Chief Executive Jason Killens and Cardiff Locality Manager Rob Brunnock.
Ian Price, an Emergency Medical Technician from the Welsh Ambulance Service and a trustee of Woody’s Lodge, expressed the following:
“We take immense pride in supporting incredible fundraising efforts like these and encourage more people to contribute to Woody’s Lodge by donating through their website or JustGiving page. Your support will help them continue safeguarding our country’s service personnel and emergency staff.”
Ian added that the Welsh Ambulance Service consistently directs their staff who need support to Woody’s Lodge, recognising the impactful work we do and the positive changes it brings.
Captains lead the way
There were three exceptional Ride Captains who led the way from Cardiff to Paris, ensuring everything ran smoothly and safely. They were David “Dai” Mathias, Gordon “Porty” Barclay and Gareth Williams. They have not only led many local and international cycling events but also support several charities such as the British Heart Foundation, Ty Hafan, and now Woody’s Lodge!
To gear up for the cycle, our Ride Captains and participating riders dedicated themselves to rigorous training for this thrilling adventure. Take a peek at some of the selfies they snapped between their high-energy training sessions.
Cycling for so many days may seem daunting at first, especially if you’re an amateur. But we ensured everyone had plenty of rest as it was essential to maintain a steady pace. Each day, we covered one route, stopping once for lunch and every few miles for refreshments. After a long day, we enjoyed overnight stays in three-star boutique hotels, and we even threw in a snug cabin for some extra comfort!
An evening in Paris
Our adventure kicked off in Cardiff and then we made our way to the English towns of Frome and Portsmouth. The highlight of the first leg of the journey was dinner and well-earned drinks in a quaint pub on the ferry terminal. On days three and four, we soaked up the picturesque French towns of Caen, Le Neubourg and Magnanville. Here, we visited the war memorial site known as Pegasus Bridge and the Villez-sur-le-Neubourg Churchyard. We took the opportunity to pay our respects to our fallen heroes of WWII, including Captain Geoffrey Laurence Burgess. On the final day, we made our way to the Trocadero, where we enjoyed an evening in Paris and ended our journey in grand style, overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
We celebrated the end of the five-day adventure with a:
Three-course Gala Dinner
Certificate and medal ceremony
A fun “kangaroo court style” ceremony by your Ride Captains
Reaching more veterans thanks to you
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our Cardiff to Paris Charity Cycle Ride. A special acknowledgment to our cyclists, supporters, drivers, medical and technical volunteers, and corporate sponsors. It’s because of your collective efforts that we can persist in our mission of aiding more veterans in need, spanning every corner of Wales!
Read more about our second successful charity cycle
Cardiff to Paris was undoubtedly a game-changer in our fundraising journey. It inspired us to follow it up with a bigger and bolder charity cycle, the Woody’s Lodge Battlefield Tours 2023, which kicked off in July. Now, we’re thrilled about our next big charity cycle, and we hope to see you there to help us continue our new exciting tradition.