With only six weeks to go until the start of the ride, we thought it was about time to introduce a new regular news slot - 'From the Team'. Ashley Toft, and other members of the cycle team (if they can fit it in around all their bike rides!), will be writing regular blogs, keeping us up-to-date with their training, fundraising and promotional acivities in these weeks leading up to the main event. Read on to find out what Ashley and the team have been up to recently and how Ashley will be spending this weekend...
Dave Green is riding Lands End to John O'Groats as part of the core team. He's also Explore Bipolar's PR Guru.
"For me, the 'Highs and Lows' ride represents a voyage of discovery - just how far can I push myself to the limits of my endurance? I've chosen to do this, but bipolar sufferers don't have a choice - they have to endure their illness. I think that giving this little bit back is the least I can do in Duncan's name. It's gonna be tough - but you don't get anywhere without hard work do you? And besides, during the real 'lows' of our 19-day odyssey, I reckon we'll have Duncan pedalling right alongside us, pushing us all on..."
When Ashley Toft met TV presenter Kate Humble, she was more than happy to sport an Explore Bipolar wristband in support of what she described as a fantastic cause.
A Halloween Ball at The Star pub in Bentley (Hants) has raised over £350 for Explore Bipolar.
Gravellyfest 04 has raised over £5k for Explore Bipolar, kick-starting the fundraising in impressive style
In its fourth year, Gravellyfest is a local festival run on a family farm in Hampshire. It has something for everyone with camping, Taiko Japanese Drummers fresh from Glastonbury, a visit to the Winchester Hat Fair on an old Routemaster bus, an open mic session for local bands and comedy acts to play and music from The Blaggards and the United Stoats of America, all topped off by a monster Kids vs dad's cricket match on Sunday morning.
With contributions from The Star Inn at Bentley, Well Manor Farm, 3 Borders Scaffolding, Dave The Chicken Man, John & Johnny for the visuals and AV equipment, Martin Stephens with the camouflage and Chef Sasha for the finest chilli this side of Guadalajara, the emphasis is on everyone mucking in and ensuring everyone enjoys the vibe.
Johnny & Katie who run the festival commented ''As always we were lucky with the weather, all our guests turned up and most people camped. We invited all festival-goers to make a donation to Bipolar UK, and were staggered by everyone's generosity. Over £5k is a great start to the fundraising, but we have a long way to go!'' Roll on the bike ride... and roll on next year at Gravelly 05''.
A HUGE thank you to all of you who kindly donated money for Bipolar UK at Gravellyfest. Please see 'Our Fundraising' tab above for information on what the funds will be used for - thanks once again
The Explore Bipolar Team
From left to right we are.....
Mike Dave Ashley Andy Johnny
(Chief Navigator) (PR Guru) (Tour Leader) (Pacesetter!) (King of Fundraising)
The five of us have got together to form a core fundraising team. We are all keen cyclists (some are keener and fitter than others!) and the orginal idea was just to do the sponsored Lands End to John O'Groats cycle as a one off event. Gradually it has evolved into something much bigger.. and we are all committed to running a number of events in memory of Duncan, to raise as much awareness of mental illness and especially Bipolar as possible, and as much cash as we can for this great charity.
He was my best buddy and I was his best man....
Duncan Toft Dunc & Anna's wedding On honeymoon Uncle Duncan
My name is Ashley Toft, (above right, standing). In August 2009, my brother Duncan took his own life during a bout of deep depression. He’d been suffering from Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) since his late teens and had been battling the extremes of mania (highs) and depression (lows) ever since. He was just 41 when he died.
I was honoured to be asked to be his best man when he married Anna on a fantastic day in Oct 2008. He was on great form that day, and probably as well as he'd been for many years. Unfortunately things were to take a turn for the worse 3 months later, with a cycle of deep depressions and severe manic episodes taking over his life. As it turned out he was never to reach his first wedding anniversary.
Dunc was my best buddy and also a loving and caring husband, son, uncle, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin..... as well as a friend to so many. He also happened to be a skilled mental health social worker who until a few months before his death, worked for the Early Intervention team in Basingstoke, using his own painful experiences to help others.
Only recently have I understood how common Bipolar is - affecting an estimated
I have also become increasingly aware how prevalent mental illness is in society – and that it is still one of life’s great taboos; a much misunderstood subject which is often swept under the carpet, and thus not always diagnosed or treated as effectively as it should be.
Duncan left us too soon and we miss him so much. But I want to make sure he didn't die in vain. That's why I created Explore Bipolar in June 2011 - to raise awareness of mental health issues and especially Bipolar. Also to raise funds for Bipolar UK, a small national charity with a big heart and a great mission to enable people affected by Bipolar to take control of their lives.
Our mission is to support a fantastic project (Project Link) which mentors and gives support to the most vulnerable sufferers, and aims to reduce the suicide rates by being there when they are most needed. Please see Our Fundraising for more detail and click the 'Donate Now' button (above right) to help us make a real difference.
Please contact us at the following email addresses:
If you'd like to ride with us or find out more about the End to End Cycle: email@example.com
If you'd like to support the cycle in any way, or are interested in corporate sponsorship of Explore Bipolar or any of the events: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to register for further updates and details of new events: email@example.com
We will endeavour to answer all emails within 24hrs, but please bear with us....we have day jobs + wives & kids to contend with!. Thank you.
Explore Bipolar 'Highs & Lows' Cycle 2012
An 19 day bike ride from Lands End to John O'Groats - experiencing the highs & lows of England, Wales and Scotland... by mountain bike & mostly offroad, the ride will include the low point near Avonmouth at low tide (minus 5m) and an ascent of Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British Isles (1344m).
A core team will ride end to end, with others joining us for a day, a weekend or a week or two. There will even be a family day when the kids will set the pace!
We leave Lands End on Thu 31st May 2012, chasing the Olympic torch which departs a couple of weeks before us.
We'd love you to join us. Find out more by clicking End to End Cycle or register your interest by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.