A keen cyclist has pledged to put his pedal power to the test by completing a 100 mile ride to raise charity cash to send a group of dedicated young people on a ’life-changing’ trip to share their experiences of mental health at an international conference. Ian Bell, who works for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), will cycle from his home in Sprowston to work at Thurlow House in King’s Lynn to mark National Cycle To Work Day on 3 September. Any sponsorship he raises will go towards a £36,000 charity appeal to send members of NSFT’s youth council to present at the International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) conference in Montreal, Canada. As well as sharing their own experiences of mental ill health and accessing services, the 16-strong group will visit a range of youth projects so that they can bring back ideas and inspiration to help further improve services in Norfolk and Suffolk. “I completed the ride from home to work last year, getting up at 5am so that I could avoid the traffic,” said Ian, who is West Norfolk Child Family and Young Person Service Manager with NSFT.
“I took a cross country route to avoid the worst of the traffic and enjoy some of the quieter and prettier parts of the route. “Although the trip is just under my target distance, I have made a commitment to cover the full 100 miles and will take a more convoluted route home to make up the mileage. I hope that I can raise as much as I can to help the youth council’s appeal.” A regular cyclist, Ian is a member of the Iceni Velo club and has taken part in several events over the past few years, the longest being a 150 ride from London to Norwich via Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. The 46-year-old predicts the journey will take around two-and-a-half hours to complete on 3 September – only just over an hour longer than it takes him to drive the same distance. “Staff in my team have been absolutely fantastic and have really thrown themselves into raising money for this worthwhile cause,” added Ian.
“They have organised fetes, cake sales, cream teas and have even released a charity single, so it’s nice that I am able to contribute and do my bit as a manager while hopefully encouraging other staff to get involved.” If the young people hit their fundraising target, they will present a dynamic video explaining their experiences of mental ill health and what they get from working with the youth council, as well as personally addressing delegates from across the globe during the conference. To sponsor Ian or donate to the fundraising campaign, please click here and add ’Ian’s sponsored cycle’ to the comments box.