For most, managing a hugely successful business combined with every day family life is challenging enough. For Tom Samuel, Managing Director at Harmonic near Ilminster, it’s only the start. Tom is also a Trustee at St. Margaret’s Hospice, while in his spare time he enjoys nothing better than a bike ride to blow the cobwebs away. A few years ago Tom took part in the Fred Whitton Challenge, a cycle ride held in the Lake District and he’d encourage anyone to get on their bike, especially for St. Margaret’s Hospice.

For Tom’s cycle, training started in January and to motivate and inspire him during those dark cold months, Tom decided that he could use the challenge as a way to raise money for the charity he already donates so much to. “Asking people to sponsor me to complete the event gave me the motivation I needed to keep going through the most physically and mentally challenging parts of the course. There were no excuses, no giving up, during the preparation or on the day,” said Tom.

Tom remembers the enormity of the challenge sunk in when they found out they had been accepted in January. The event is a gruelling 112 mile sportive challenge ride for charity around the Lake District, held in memory of Fred Whitton. From 2014, it has started and finished in Grasmere, and the route includes the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes. When Tom started the challenge he just wanted to finish but as he saw his fellow cyclists dismount and walk these inclines, Tom was determined to stay on the bike, mainly because his daughters’ words of encouragement had been: “I’ll only be proud of you Dad if you ride all the way up Hardknott pass!”

Tom said “I was elated when I got to the top of the last hard pass. The final 10 miles were mostly flat and were a pleasure to ride, especially as I had a great sense of achievement accompanying me all the way to the end.

“I’m so pleased I took part in a challenge while also raising money for  St. Margaret’s. Working closely with the hospice really does open your eyes to the wonderful care it provides our community. I received amazing support from my friends and family,  even my so-called friends who seemed to put their hands further in their pockets at the thought that I’d be in pain!

"I’ve had a look at the route and whether you choose to do one way or both the challenge will be incredibly rewarding, I wish everyone good luck and maybe I’ll see you at the Fred Whitton challenge!"