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Cyclists’ 180-mile challenge to mark anniversary of girl’s death

Clockwise from top left: The original team pictured in 2003, Francesca Green, who died in 2003, and Graham Jackson, Barney Green and Leo Green in Dorset in 2012

Clockwise from top left: The original team pictured in 2003, Francesca Green, who died in 2003, and Graham Jackson, Barney Green and Leo Green in Dorset in 2012

A team of Thame cyclists are preparing to set off on a 180 mile ride to mark 10 years since one of their children died.

In 2003 Barney Green’s 10-year-old daughter Francesca was being treated for a brain tumour when the group decided to take on their original ride around Oxfordshire’s borders.

Francesca was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital the day the team set off and died on the third day of the ride.

Most of the team, who called themselves the Boys Of Thame Touring Oxfordshire’s Margins (BOTTOM), still completed the ride and helped raise £12,500 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

Since then, they and their friends have cycled around various counties as part of a ‘County Circumcycle’.

On Saturday (September 14) four members of the original group – Graham Jackson, Leo Green, John Grellier and Barney – are setting off on the three-day trip around Oxfordshire again, raising money for CLIC Sargent.

Mr Green describes it as ‘unfinished business’ as he never completed the original ride.

He set off on the first ride knowing his daughter was in hospital and left to be at her bedside on the day she died.

Mr Green said of the ride: “I was understandably withdrawn, my mind elsewhere.

“My strongest memory is of the beautiful butterflies, fluttering around my dusty front wheel. Francesca always loved butterflies.

“I got the call I had been dreading and took a taxi to the hospital to meet my wife.

“After exhaustive tests and lengthy discussions we agreed to turn off Francesca’s life support that afternoon.”

All the team expect this weekend’s ride to be ‘physically and emotionally draining’.

Mr Jackson said: “None of us want to relive the events of 2003, but equally none of us wishes to forget.”

The cause is close to many of the team’s heart, not just because of Francesca, but as other people within their family and friendship groups have been hit by cancer.

Mr Jackson’s mother also died in 2003 and the teenage daughter of one of the other cyclists was also diagnosed with cancer in 2005, although she has since made a successful recovery.

As well as honouring his daughter, Mr Green hopes the team’s efforts will encourage other people to get cycling and raise money.

The group have set up a website with their full story and details of various routes people can take.

Mr Green said: “The BOTTOM team all love to get together and talk about how much of beautiful England we now know intimately.

“We have seen fantastic architecture, from stately homes and majestic follies, to tiny thatched cottages.

“Fantastic lunchtime pubs and great bits of history, from Roman roads and ruins, to the marvels of Victorian engineering.

“Cycling these routes you get a sense of the real England, a stunning country that we should all be proud to live in.”

To read more about the group’s story visit the Circumcycle website.

 

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