Our next generation of inspirational fundraisers are doing Demelza proud. This week we meet 12-year-old Vernon who, accompanied by dad Matthew, cycled over a mammoth 120 miles, completing the Viking Trail four times over four weekends – raising over £1,500 for Demelza.

Vernon’s charity bike ride

In April 2021, Vernon set out with the original goal of raising £200, which was soon achieved and raised to £840, covering the cost of a one-night stay at our hospice for a child under our care. Vernon shares: “I always knew that there were children out there who are very ill and less fortunate than others in terms of health. I wanted to do something for them so I chose to support Demelza Hospice Care for Children.”

Speaking about the support he received, Vernon says: “My family members were extremely impressed when I told them this and my friends thought that it was great that I am raising money for charity. I had sent JustGiving links to many friends and family members and my Mum and Dad had also sent links to people. I also had these little cards I could give to people and they could read about what I am doing and find my JustGiving page.” 

Vernon and fellow fundraiser dad Matthew even went on to catch the attention of the Mayor of Broadstairs: “I had emailed the parish councils of the parishes I would cycle through and I had asked them for donations and one person who came back to me was the Mayor of Broadstairs!”

The Viking Coastal Trail is a 32-mile loop exploring Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. It follows quiet country lanes and passes through peaceful Kentish villages. We asked Vernon how hard he found the route: “To be honest it wasn’t too hard at the start but as I progressed it became pretty gruelling with all the hills. I am planning to do another fundraiser soon for Demelza and I would like to try a different route!”

Fundraisers Matthew and Vernon Hill pose with their bikes and the Mayor of Broadstairs, holding a Demelza banner and wearing Demelza t-shirts.

Matthew shares: “Whilst the route choice was more of a joint decision, I was very impressed that Vernon set the target of doing four circuits; this really helped to raise more money and his determination and resilience were seriously impressive. The celebrations were partly en route at the seafood stall in Margate and then at the end with the largest ice cream sundae we could find in Broadstairs – he deserved it!”

Vernon was accompanied by dad Matthew throughout the challenge and whilst this was Vernon’s first charity bike ride, Matthew already had a few under his belt – and has big plans for 2022, with Vernon supporting him along the way: “I am beaming with pride to see him do such an amazing charity bike ride, with a really long route!”

Funding Demelza for a day

We are thrilled that Matthew will be joining Team Demelza in May to take on RideLondon, a 100-mile route on closed roads, from London to Essex – but he won’t stop there!

Matthew shares: “So, having done a little fundraising for other charities before and being inspired with all the wonderful support and donations we received (I have to mention again the Mayor of Broadstairs and also Sir Roger Gale!), I had noticed how much more ‘real’ it is to relate the fundraising to some key costs for the charity, such as a nurses salary or a day to run something specific. I then wanted to know how much it is to run the whole of Demelza for just one day and the mind-boggling figure of £12,709* came back! I was already going to do one or two rides that had been carried over from the last 18 months and thought if I bundle them up and set the big target, let’s see what I can do!”

Fundraisers Matthew and Vernon Hill, pose with the bikes, outside the Sittingbourne hospice.

Matthew's 2022 cycling challenges

So far, Matthew’s 2022 calendar is looking pretty busy and he’ll be taking on:

29 May 2022 – RideLondon, 100 miles

5 June 2022 – Tour of Cambridgeshire, 100 miles

17 June 2022 –Vätternrundan 24 hour challenge, 198 miles

1 July 2022 – 5 days cycling the length of Portugal, 466 miles

That’s an impressive 864 miles and an elevation of approximately 43,000ft over the four events – and to highlight the magnitude of this remarkable challenge Matthew has set himself, we would like to note that in comparison, Mount Everest reaches an elevation of just 29,032ft!

Asking if Vernon would be joining him, Matthew jokes: “I would love him to join me, but he’s still too fast for me - so maybe in the future! Some of these are pretty big rides, although if he could join me on the last section of RideLondon that would be great!”

Matthew’s fundraising is already underway and if you would like to show your support, please tap the button below to visit his JustGiving page.

Get in touch

Interested in setting up your own fundraising challenge? Our community fundraising team are available to answer any questions you might have about fundraising and support you with your events and fundraising targets.

For more inspiration and fundraising ideas, visit our fundraise for us page.

*£12,709 demonstrates the running costs of our three sites in Kent, South East London and East Sussex. This figure shows our full costs minus those that fall within fundraising, marketing, trading, finance, HR and facilities departments.