Cancer patient cycles 100 laps of Rutland Water for Captain Tom challenge
Terminally ill grandfather Frank McEwan has crossed the finish line on his epic pedal-powered fundraiser around Rutland Water.
Frank took on Papa’s 100 Bike Rides - a century of rides around Rutland Water - in response to the national ‘100 challenge’ inspired by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.
The 74-year-old completed the challenge on Sunday after just 43 days in spite of losing a lung to cancer and the brutal side-effects of ongoing chemotherapy.
His pedal power has raised more than £6,000 for Cancer Research UK.
“I have loved every minute of it," he said.
“I've made lots of new friends through these 100 bike rides and caught up with lots of old friends I had lost touch with.
“The challenge was a great method for me to say thank-you very much to the NHS for putting me back on my bike, and making money for Cancer Research who may one day find a cure for this horrible disease."
Daily circuits of the reservoir were a staple part of life for many years until cancer intervened.
Frank returned to the saddle at the start of 2021 and just three months later embarked on his mission.
“I can’t walk very well as a result of the chemotherapy and shuffle around the village like an old man," he added.
"But on my bike you would never know anything's wrong."
Frank, from Belton, was joined on his 100th ride by a possee of supporters on two wheels who joined him for a celebratory meal at the Horse and Jockey pub at Manton.
“It was a terrific day and I was very pleased with the amount of people who turned out," he added.
“I'm thrilled to bits with how much we've raised and thankful to everyone who has taken part or supported in whatever way.
“I'm very grateful to my wonderful daughter Andrea for doing all of the technical stuff, and my grandson Teddy - we’re just like two little buddies.”
The former Army PTI instructor is undergoing chemotherapy to prolong his life after being told in February last year his lung cancer was terminal.
During his two-and-a-half-year battle with the disease, the former sergeant lost his right lung, while his breathing remains further hindered by surgery on a ruptured diaphragm.
Proud Teddy described his grandad's 100th ride as the ‘best day of his life’, while Andrea said the support shown to her family had been ‘unreal’.
“We are so proud of dad,” she added.
“The determination he has to get on his bike regardless of his treatment and how he is feeling is astonishing.
“We will be forever grateful for everyone that has donated which has allowed dad to feel he is able to repay the NHS and Cancer Research for his care and treatment, without which we don’t think dad would still be with us, let alone riding his bike.”
While the landmark has been reached, the fundraising goes on.
Friend and neighbour Brian Shuttleworth was among regular support riders as well as Wing artist Angela Harding.
Having joined his friend halfway through the challenge on a borrowed bike, Brian chalked up his 50th ride on Sunday and now has his own century in sight to keep the fundraising tally ticking over.
* To support Frank, visit www.uk.gofundme.com/s?q=Papa%27s%20100%20bike%20rides