Cyclists get star welcome

AN ESTATE agent from Clare was congratulated by the French national rugby team coach as he helped raise more than £11,000 for Ipswich’s St Elizabeth Hospice.

Nick Mills, from David Burr, on Market Hill, completed a 990-mile ride from Great Finborough to Toulon in the south of France with friends Ian Lewis and Richard Youngman, in memory of Ian’s late dad Mick, who was cared for at the hospice.

At the end of the nine-day ride, Philippe Saint-André, who will take over the coaching of France after the World Cup, was on hand to help celebrate their achievement.

Mr Mills said: “It was fantastic, when we got to the other end Ian’s uncles, who live down there, got the mayor and the French press involved.

“Philippe was there because he is a family friend and it was his son’s birthday party at the bowling alley, so we had a couple of beers with him.”

The trio easily cleared the £6,000 fundraising target they originally set, with the final total enough to run the hospice for around 14 hours.

Mr Mills said: “It was just a really rewarding trip. We would definitely do it again. It is such a great hospice – they work really hard there and you can see what a difference it makes.”

Andrea Chupacova, community fundraiser with St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “The challenge they set was a gruelling one, and we are so proud of them. To raise that amount of money was amazing.”