BIG-HEARTED cyclists have raised an amazing £14,515 for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland in memory of talented Co Down artist John Connery by taking part in a gruelling 220 mile sponsored maracycle.
The 17-strong team, including John’s son Michael (24), from Scarva, and his nephews Andrew (37), Mark (24) and Ashley Holden (39), aimed to raise £10,000 for Cancer Focus, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, but easily topped their target.
The troupe completed the trip from Belfast to Dublin and back after John (54), who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007, sadly lost his battle with the disease.
The cyclists attended a ceremony at Banbridge Borough Council,to hand over the cheque to Cancer Focus Head of Appeals and Marketing Joyce Savage.
John had planned to do a maracycle for Cancer Focus with Michael but became too ill. Instead, Michael and Andrew decided to take on the challenge in his memory.
John’s wife Jacqui also attended the cheque presentation with family and friends. She said: “John was first diagnosed with cancer in February 2007 and had a bowel operation in April. He was great until September 2009 when we found out it had come back and was in his lungs and abdomen. He was told he had a couple of years and decided he wanted to do a few special things.
“By the time John was training for the Cancer Focus maracycle he wasn’t well enough to see it through. He died in July 2011 and afterwards Michael said he wanted to do the maracycle for his dad”.
“I had and still have a lot of support from family and friends but I know there are people out there who don’t have anyone to help them cope. Cancer Focus plays a very important role in supporting people during an enormously difficult time in their lives. I know what it’s like to have your world turned upside down – plus this is another way to remember John.
“I am absolutely delighted that our family and friends have pulled together and raised this enormous amount for the charity – it’s quite overwhelming. I’d like to thank everyone who helped in any way, or made a donation, from the bottom of my heart. John would have been proud of you all.”
John’s story reached a wide audience during 2010 when he wrote a weekly column for the News Letter newspaper and he was awarded a special commendation at the Regional Press Awards in London for his inspirational and thought-provoking words which showed the very real impact a cancer diagnosis has on every aspect of someone’s life.
If you’d like more information about Cancer Focus, Northern Ireland’s leading cancer charity, click on cancerfocusni.org, call 028 9066 3281 or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.