BY TOBY PORTER
A barman cycled 54 miles to Brighton to raise money to help sick children. Simon Danks, who works at the Pavilion, Sydenham, raised £2,500 on his arduous pedal – but is planning to treble that by cycling to Paris.
The 40-year-old father-of-five knows the work done by the nearby St Christopher’s Hospice, in Lawrie Park Avenue, because many families it has helped come into his pub.
The former head chef, who used to work at Bromley Hospital, took four hours and 20 minutes to reach his destination. “I know quite a few people who have family members who passed on there,” he said. “It is a local charity which does amazing work.
“People come in after visiting family. All they do is praise the staff, who do an amazing job. It is such a good thing they do. I just wanted to raise money for the staff and the patients.
“It was hard going. We had a lot of headwinds. There were times when I thought my legs would not make it.
“I am quite proud of the time. It wasn’t bad going.
“Dave Ward, a friend from the pub came too, to check I’d be okay if anything happened to me or the bike.
“He suggested it only a couple of days before. But he rides two hours every day, getting to and from work, which is more than I was doing, so it was a good idea.
“It was a relief to reach the outskirts of the town. There are two gateposts which you know when you pass them there are five miles to go.
“I also had friends staying in a hotel in Brighton the night before and they drove us back from there.
“I was already cycling a bit, doing distances, so I thought why not do it for a good cause like St Christopher’s.
“I have always been a fan of bike riding. But now I have hit 40 and have kids, it was a way of keeping fit. In my job, you tend to drink maybe a bit more than is healthy.
“So I thought it was time to counter the effects of the alcohol I was taking in. I was fine the following day, I worked as normal.
Now I am hoping to cycle to Paris. It is 80 miles to Dover then 150 from Calais to Paris, so it will be tough.”