Belle Vue cycles to raise money for The Christie cancer hospital

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Stockport-based coach operator Belle Vue 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.

(L-R) Philip Hitchen with colleagues Matthew Turner and Craig McClean from the Belle Vue coach company on a training ride

The 13-strong team, which includes 10 drivers, is led by the operator’s Managing Director Phil Hitchen. A former Christie patient, 54-year-old Phil 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, Phil 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 their 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.