Last year, Martyn’s wife, Holly, passed away suddenly after a short battle with cancer. After speaking to Holly’s brother, Martyn decided to ride 969 miles from Land’s End to John o’Groats in Holly’s memory and raise money for Starlight at the same time.
Holly was a successful professional ballroom and Latin dancer who represented England at world championships and later worked as a very talented ballroom and Latin dress designer who was involved in some of the dress designs for the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.
Losing Holly turned my world upside down. We had plans to move to a new house and start a family. I found myself with no direction. I used to cycle in my early twenties, so I started using my bike as a coping mechanism and a way to get out.
Holly helped Starlight grant a wish for a little girl called Izzy who was fighting rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer, and wished to have her own Strictly Come Dancing dress. She dressed Izzy in true ‘strictly style’ with her very own, beautiful, sparkly purple ballroom dress and completed the outfit by fitting her with a lovely pair of silver ballroom shoes. She was really touched by the whole experience and Martyn believes that Starlight is the charity Holly would have wanted him to support.
Martyn trained for the gruelling cycle by commuting to work on his bike and going for longer rides on the weekend, gradually increasing the distance to 200 miles a week. He made sure that he tackled lots of hills in his training but suffered a major setback when he was involved in a serious collision with a car.
Miraculously Martyn didn’t break anything, but his bike was left in three pieces. He didn’t cycle for 12 weeks and was a bit apprehensive about whether he’d be able to do the challenge, but once he was back on his bike it was like he was never off it.
It was really emotional when I finished the challenge as my parents and Holly’s parents were waiting at the finish line with her favourite champagne. I’m proud of what I’ve achieve and raising money for Starlight in the process. It’s nice to think that something positive can come out of such a horrible situation. I’m going to keep up the cycling and just need to think of my next challenge!
It took Martyn nine days to cycle from Land’s End to John o’Groats. He was up at 5am every morning and covered over 100 miles a day. After the finish line he even carried on a few extra miles to round it up to 1000.