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Mark And Matt’s Parisian Pedal Power Raises More Than £3,000 For Charity

A father and son duo from Sussex have completed their very own Tour De France, complete with a grand finish in the French capital and in doing so raised £3,400 for St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley.

In early August, Mark Heppell, 57, musical director and choir leader at Sussex-based choir, inChoir, and his son Matt, 28, a self-employed web designer completing their journey underneath the Eiffel Tower in central Paris after four days of gruelling cycling starting at Mark’s home in Crawley Down.

The fundraising effort saw the peddling pair cycle South-bound across Sussex to Newhaven Port, but unfortunately they arrived too late to make the Newhaven to Dieppe evening crossing so had to spend a night in Newhaven before leaving Sussex behind and making the ferry ride across to France.

During the next three days, Mark and Matt made their way across Northern France enroute to Paris, and although generally good weather the pair did battle some wind and rain and terrain including hills, woodland and crossing rivers, as well as winding their way through beautiful sleepy villages.

Mark said: “People take on bigger cycling challenges, but for the two of us as newcomers to the sport, this was big enough, and we put in a fair amount of training beforehand. It was just
a question of getting enough miles in our legs, and we cycled about 1,500 miles between January and July.’

“We originally looked at doing the trip with a group of people and a supporting company, but we felt we would rather all the money went to the hospice than on paying for the trip. So every penny we collected has gone to the hospice, and we funded the trip ourselves” He added.

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Mark And Matt’s Tour De France

The distance covered by Mark and Matt between Crawley Down and Paris is around 212.1 miles, or 341.3 kilometres, had they stayed in England, it is about the same as that between Hove and Lincoln.

Head-to-head, the Crawley Down population is 4,598 (2011 Census), while the population of Paris, recorded in 2010 was 2.244 million – add in the suburbs and the figure is far closer to 10.5 million.

Did you know? The Eiffel Tower, where Mark and Matt finished their cycle was only supposed to be a temporary installation, and intended to stand for 20 years after being built for the 1889 World Fair.


Mark chose to fundraise for St Catherine’s Hospice as he says he was very impressed with the work done by the hospice movement, and in particular he had found St Catherine’s Hospice to be a much more positive place than he expected, and he wanted to do a little bit to help them if I could.

Reflecting on his and Matt’s experience, Mark, said: “France is a cycle-friendly place, everybody made us welcome, and the places we stayed and restaurants we used were really encouraging and helpful. We thought cycling in Paris might be a bit hairy, but it was a joy, with lots of cycle paths!”

Going into the fundraising cycle as a novice, Mark said: “We’ve never done anything like this before, but we’ll certainly be going on cycling trips again. We’ve raised a little over £3,400, and over 200 people have donated, nearly all of them members of inChoir – they’re a very generous bunch!’

“It’s very humbling, and I’m very lucky to have been able to have a great time with my son cycling across Northern France, and raise such a nice amount for the charity” Mark added.

By Jacob White

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