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Ardonagh trio conquer 980-mile cycle raising £16,000 for Kabuki UK

20 September, 2019 |Ardonagh Group | People

Nine days, 980 miles and £16,000 later, Ardonagh senior leaders Steven Anson – COO Schemes and Programmes, Nick Sharp – COO Geo Specialty, and Rob Worrell – CEO Insurance Broking, arrived at John O’Groats having completed the gruelling ride from Lands’ End, in support of Kabuki UK.

After taking in the sights of 23 counties across the English, Welsh and Scottish countryside, the trio arrived at their final destination earlier this week, raising funds for a very worthwhile cause along the way.

Kabuki UK is a charity that supports families effected by Kabuki Syndrome, a very rare genetic condition and one that is close to the heart of Steve and his family, whose five-year-old daughter Emma was diagnosed with Kabuki Syndrome just before her first birthday.

In 2018, Kabuki UK was awarded a £4,000 from ACT following Steve’s successful grant application, and he has since wanted to do more.


We caught up with the team on their return to hear about the highs, lows and memorable moments of their incredible journey.

Tell us about the fundraising challenge, how much you’ve raised so far and where the money will go…

[Steve] "So far we’ve raised over £16,000 – the generosity so many people have shown has been really humbling to be honest – and being such a rare condition, the charity does not have huge numbers of donors or grants – it relies upon fund-raising each year to stay afloat and continue to support Kabuki families.

If we reach £20,000 then we will have secured its future for the next three years – which is incredible to be able to do.

I would not have been able to raise this money without Nick and Rob; their offer to help raise money and join me on the ride was a huge surprise and I’ll always be indebted to them for their support and generosity in helping me to do this.

We have had fantastic support from a lot of quarters - AVIVA, AGEAS, I-Wonder and Ecclesiastical have been incredible supporters externally.

I think the support we’ve received in general over the last few months is a real demonstration of the strength of culture and values that has just become part of the DNA within Ardonagh - which I hope David, Janice, Adrian, Rob, Derek, Ian and the rest of the key architects of the group are incredibly proud of – they are creating something pretty special."

How tough was the ride?!

[Rob] "I’m rarely short of words but this has been the toughest sporting ‘ thing ‘ of my life and I have competed in many battles, fights and tests of endurance over my 50 years - this dwarfs them all.

The second to last day in particular was brutal - 119 miles, 6500 feet of climb including 20% gradients up the Lecht - and the worst possible weather - 1 more mph of wind and the event would have had to be suspended!! Not to mention the rain…

Steve was a machine through the ride and smashed it pretty much every day - BUT Nick is made of steel – a privilege to have as pals and colleagues. My private parts also need a mention as they make never work again!"

[Nick] "It was hands away the hardest thing I’ve done – I thought I had prepared well for it – but the 9 days definitely took its toll and by the end I was desperately grateful to be able to make it across the line – I am not sure how much longer my body would have held up!"

[Steve] "Like Rob I’ve done a few crazy things over the years – but this was brutal at times – particularly the last few days when we were battling 40+MPH winds to edge forwards.

I think the end of the first day stuck in my mind – over 9000 feet of climbing through the beautiful Cornish countryside – when you looked around at people as they were coming in – it was like the aftermath of a disaster - lots of people with staggering around with 1000 mile stares- looking for all intents and purposes like they were suffering shell-shock."


Any memorable moments?

[Nick] "the sense of achievement finishing each day will stay with me a long time – particularly that second to last day – I was pretty emotional!

Of the 750 people who started about 20% failed to finish at least one day – we all made it start to finish without missing a foot of the route – everyone has some dark moments when you are wondering just what on earth you are doing to yourself so to get to the end and conquer the body and mind was fantastic."

[Steve] "Most of the memories I’ll hold on to were seeing the guys cross the line each day – incredibly proud and in awe of them both for what they got through.

Some of the scenery in Scotland was incredible even with the weather we experienced, it was just unforgettable.

I would also thank Rob Evans and Tony O’Gara for seeing us across the line in Haydock – great to see some friendly faces along the way!"


What’s next? Any plans for future fundraising efforts in support of Kabuki?

[Steve] "This was a huge commitment of time, not just the 9 days, but all the weekends training before so for the next few weeks/months my free time will be spent with my girls and not on a bike!

Once I’ve recovered then I’ll start to think of another challenge and next year I’ll focus on giving something back to ACT – who have been huge support for Kabuki UK this year."

If you’d like to support the trio with this amazing challenge you can donate on the links below:

Learn more about Kabuki Syndrome and the great work that Kabuki UK to support those who are diagnosed.

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