Trunk road challenge for mammoth cause

Wed 16 June, 2021
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A member of University of Bedfordshire staff will be cycling 257 miles along the old Roman trunk road to raise money as part of Keech Hospice Care’s elephant-themed fundraising campaign – the Big Trunk Trail.

Andy and his bikeIn honour of this summer’s Big Trunk Trail, Andrew Kingston – based in the University’s Marketing team – has decided to get on his bike and make the long journey from Dunstable to Holyhead in Wales, all to raise money for charity. 

Launching next month, the Big Trunk Trail is a public art event organised by Wild in Art and Keech Hospice Care, to celebrate the Bedfordshire charity’s 30 year anniversary. The event will feature lots of colourful fibreglass elephants, big and small, that will be dotted around landmarks, businesses and green spaces across Luton.

Two of the trail elephants – Artie and Bedzy – have been sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire. As well as being a key trail partner, the University has pledged to raise £1000 for Keech Hospice Care through student and staff fundraising, to help support the essential work the charity does in caring for people with life-limiting illnesses.

To help reach this goal, Andrew decided to don his bike helmet and peddle 275 miles across the UK starting on 20th June. During his journey, he will be following the ancient Roman trunk road that leads from Bedfordshire to Wales.

Roman trunk road

The University’s Communications team caught up with Andrew to ask him about his chosen route and why he's doing it…

What inspired you to cycle 275 miles across the UK?

"I used to enjoy cycling as a kid. As a middle-aged man, I’m determined NOT to have a proper midlife crisis, but I have returned to some of the interests I used to have and which I lost sight of. Cycling is one of them, birdwatching and appreciating the countryside another. I’m not a great cyclist and don’t go for cleats and lycra and all that but I do have a decent modern ‘hybrid’ bike."

Why have you decided to raise money for Keech hospice care?

"Keech are well known around Luton and beyond. They have a reputation for doing a fantastic job and I have been involved in helping them through the University before, including painting a hospice room as part of a teambuilding activity. The Trunk Trail initiative looks fantastic; I just wanted to lend my hand and legs to the cause in whatever way I could."

Cycling 275 miles is quite a challenge what will keep you motivated during the long journey?

"I love cycling and love seeing different parts of the UK. I cycle for pleasure and will train up and take electrolytes and Fig Rolls which should see me through the miles. I’m going to cycle to places I’ve never been to, past Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, the canals in Birmingham, Ironbridge and the River Severn, Snowdonia, Caernarfon…. New pubs and some stunning scenery – what’s not to like? Then at the end, the RSPB’s South Stack reserve on Holy Island, where I’m hoping to see Puffins, Choughs, Ravens and Guillemots."

What is the Roman trunk road and why have you chosen it as your route?

"Aside from the suitably elephant-themed name, the old Watling Street was built by the Romans and linked Kent to London and Dunstable. I think Dunstable was a bit of an accident, although it’s here that the even more ancient Icknield Way crosses it. (Luton has a more ancient history than either Dunstable or St Albans, but that’s another story for another day). The old Watling Street then pushes on to the Welsh borders, near Shrewsbury. Unlike the Romans, I’m going to keep going.”

Big Trunk TrailColleagues and friends can keep up with Andrew's journey by following his blog, The Senseless Cyclist, where he will be documenting his progress and the birds he spots along the way.

To support Andrew’s challenge, please donate to Keech via the University’s donation page: https://keech.enthuse.com/pf/bedz

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