Plans are well in place for the inaugural NW200 Air Ambulance NI Cyclosportive which is an exciting new cycle sportive event covering the beautiful Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland, being held on Sunday 7th May 2017 with all proceeds going to the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance.
With annual running costs of £2 million and no government funding the Air Ambulance will be relying on the generosity of local people to help fund this service.
Knowing all too well how important an Air Ambulance can be, Violet McAfee who was hit by a motorbike while watching the North West 200 in 2015 wanted to do something to help raise funds for this vital service.
Violet recalls, “I remember watching the warm up lap in my friend’s garden on the Station Road in Portstewart. The first lap had just got underway when the accident occurred.”
A high speed collision involving three bikes resulted in one of the bikes flying over the garden wall and hitting Violet. Her injuries were so severe that she had to be air lifted by Coastguard helicopter to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Violet admits that “being lifted by helicopter meant that I got lifesaving treatment much quicker than travelling by road in an ambulance, I know that this definitely saved my life.”
When the news broke that there was going to be a dedicated Air Ambulance for Northern Ireland, Violet was delighted.
Violet explains, “I was chatting to colleagues at work one day, saying how much I would love to raise money for the Air Ambulance. We were trying to think of ideas for fundraising events. My friend, Deborah, a keen cyclist and member of the local Causeway Cycle Club, turned to me and said to me “I know the man that you need to speak to” and that’s when she put me in touch with Robert Downes, Chairman of Causeway Cycle Club.”
Violet met with Robert and after an initial conversation agreed to put plans in place to organise a cycle sportive event. The Causeway Cycle Club team started the ball rolling by meeting with Mervyn White, Race Chief of the International North West 200, to get his support and agree the date and use of the NW200 Pits area as the venue for the start and finish of this sportive.
Two years after her accident and still in recovery, Violet says “I really hope that people will get behind this Sportive and support the Air Ambulance NI service. I’m living proof that you really don’t know what could happen to you when you walk out the door.”
Speaking to Causeway Coast Community Ulster Unionist William McCandless said
“The acquisition of air ambulance service for Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8 M people, with most of it rural was a wonderful achievement. This essential service however, was estimated to have an annual running cost of £2M. The generosity of our local communities will be vital in the contribution to this operating cost and to this end I wish to pay tribute to Causeway Cycling Club for hosting the inaugural Air Ambulance N.I. cycle event on Sunday 7th May 2017.
The three routes which have been chosen will include some of the most spectacular scenery on the North Coast.
As someone who has literally just purchased a bike, this just might give me the push I need to get ready to take part in this.”
About Causeway CC
This is a club created for people who want to ride their bikes in a friendly group, enjoying our tremendous local scenery but without the intensity of a racing/training environment.
The club has been created by a number of experienced cyclists from the Causeway area who are passionate about road cycling and spreading their love of the sport by encouraging others to give it a go. Causeway is an inclusive club, welcoming men and women from 9 to 90 and catering for those cyclists happy to do ten or twenty miles at a gentle pace right up to those who wish to compete in the toughest sportive.
New members will be very well catered for with the beginners’ group keeping pace with the slowest member so there is absolutely no chance of being left behind. This group will also include tips on group riding. The weekend club runs on Sunday mornings, leaving Costa Coffee in Coleraine at 09:00, are designed to develop the camaraderie of the group whilst building base miles at a more leisurely pace. Some of the club’s senior riders will always be on hand to offer advice where required and to identify the best coffee stops en route!
Chairman, Robert Downes, said that “Raising money for charity is also a big part of Causeway Cycling Club and supporting the fundraising efforts of our own and other cycling clubs throughout Northern Ireland is extremely important to us.”
Anyone who is interested in joining the Causeway club on their weekend clubs runs or who wants to find out more about this exciting new approach to leisure cycling should contact [email protected].
PHOTO CREDIT : JAMES HISLOP