Silverwood Challenge

Sky Gilllian

I have always had a bike.  I used it to get to University from my student flat; as a new mother living in the Netherlands I adopted their ways and cycled everywhere with babe on handlebars; even moving to hilly Surrey with three young sons didn’t  stop me – we just found the easy routes;  but I have never considered myself to be a serious cyclist.  However a few years ago I wanted to do something to mark my 50th birthday and decided to cycle the Hadrian’s Wall route with my friend Jillian.

Wallsend, Gillian and Jillian make it to the end of the wall

Wallsend, Gillian and Jillian make it to the end of the wall

The following year we cycled from Bristol to Guildford and then for a couple of years we got our challenge from doing the Isle of Wight Randonnee.

Getting ready to go off around the IoW - 100km

Getting ready to go off around the IoW – 100km

Recent poor summer weather and changing family commitments have deterred us from any serious training but this year we’ve signed up to cycle to Amsterdam from London –  300 miles in three days and this time I hope to raise some money for two charities; Plant Heritage and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

I love the links between plants and people, from the give away naming used by plant collectors (douglasii, forrestii etc) to the plants in my gardens given to me by friends and family.  I have a great fondness for one particular plant in my garden, Geranium nodosum ‘Silverwood’, bought on my visit to Rachel Etheridge’s National Collection in 2011.  When Joan Taylor put in her application for a National Collection she described how she had introduced this cultivar which set me off to find the herbarium specimen she had submitted to the RHS.  Finally this summer I got to meet Joan and visit her garden in Hamshire.  Full circle.

Joan in her garden

Joan in her garden

So when I was deciding who to nominate as my sponsored charities it only took a few moments to get from Plant Heritage to MNDA –  the money Joan raises by selling G. ‘Silverwood’ goes to MNDA in memory of her husband John who died of this disease.  When I asked Joan if she was happy for me to do this she told me how John also used to raise money for charity by cycling, another circle rounded off and an explanation of the title of my ride.

I have set up fundraising pages on BT Donate and would love it if any readers of this blog could sponsor me.  My intention was to have one page and split the money raised equally between the two charities but BT Donate are not able to do this (yet) so I have set up two links, one to PH

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/gillianspencer1

and the other to MNDA.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/gillianspencer2

I am paying all my expenses for the trip so everything raised through sponsorship will go to the two charities.  I am also hoping to write about my training, starting with a trip around the National Collections on the Isle of Wight this weekend with Mercy.

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