Matthew and Sandra Williamson have embraced the challenge of getting fit and raising money for St. Margaret’s Hospice by joining our 2018 Overseas Cycle.

The couple were motivated to support St. Margaret’s after Matthew’s brother Keith was cared for at our Taunton In-patient Unit.

“The care Keith received was amazing, but we also got a lot of support as a family,” said Matthew. “We felt comfortable visiting and were made to feel welcome. Everyone was very supportive and understood what we were going through as a family.”

Keith, who lived in Culmstock with his wife Sue, was passionate about driving and his pride and joy was a Morgan sports car. He arrived at the hospice the day before his 61st birthday, having been diagnosed with a brain tumour three years earlier.

“Keith was a bit unsure about going to the hospice, but on the first day he realised it was the right place to be,” said Matthew. “I had never been in a hospice before and I had no idea what they did. All the staff and equipment there ensured he was pain free and comfortable. It made what would have been a really desperate situation more bearable.”

Keith was at the hospice for about two months. During his last few days, the family stayed in the Sunflower Suite – a self-contained flat for visiting relatives – so they could have space to rest and prepare meals while remaining close by.

Sandra said: “We were so impressed by all the staff’s humour, sense of fun and the way they supported Keith so he maintained his dignity and pride. Keith and Sue’s cat was even allowed to visit for the day, which Keith loved. The staff looked after all of us and gave us time and space to say our goodbyes.”

Matthew and Sandra will meet up with fellow St. Margaret’s supporters in London before riding to Harwich, catching the ferry to Holland and cycling to Amsterdam and then on to the finish line in Brussels. They are aiming to raise £2,000 in sponsorship while cycling 280 miles over four days.

“We wanted to do something to say thank you, and it had to be a challenge,” said Matthew, from Tiverton. “We are enjoying cycling three or four times a week and it’s certainly improving our fitness.”

“We will be thinking of Keith as we train for this 280-mile cycle ride,” added Sandra. “Cycling does not come easily to me, so this will be a huge challenge.”

If you would like to get fit while raising money to help St. Margaret’s Hospice care for more people facing life-limiting illnesses, there is still time to sign up for the Great Somerset Cycle and our Overseas Cycle.