Twenty two Evertonians will cycle more than 240 miles next month in memory of former Blues midfielder Gary Speed to raise funds for Everton in the Community’s mental health campaign, The People’s Place.
Backed and endorsed by Gary’s parents Carol and Roger, The Speed Cycle will see the group trek between all of the Wales international’s former clubs, setting off from Newcastle United in the early hours of Saturday 1 June and heading to Elland Road, home of Leeds United.
Sunday 2 June will then see the cyclists take on the hills of Yorkshire and Lancashire as they travel to Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers before the final leg brings them back to Goodison Park on Sunday evening.
With less than two weeks to go before they get in the saddle, the 22-strong group were put through their paces with a special training session at USM Finch Farm and were joined by Blues Giant Duncan Ferguson, a former teammate of Gary’s at both Everton and Newcastle, who was on hand to offer the cyclists some words of encouragement:
“It’s clear from meeting the group that they’ve all trained incredibly hard for the challenge and good luck to them, I know they will do a fantastic job and raise a great sum of money for The People’s Place,” said Everton’s first-team coach.
“I think as a society now we are more aware of our mental health; things are changing, the environment is changing. There are a lot of people suffering with poor mental health and it is a big issue.
“For Everton in the Community to build a mental health facility like The People’s Place right in the heart of Liverpool 4 will be very important and I’m sure it will be a place that will help a great deal of people. This is another fantastic project from Everton in the Community – the charity loves the people of Liverpool and it does a great job in helping those in need.
Reflecting on his memories of his friend and teammate Gary Speed, Ferguson said: “He was a gentleman, a total gentleman and I always remember that big smile. He was a great fella, a great player, a great professional and a great guy – everybody always wanted to be next to him. He was just a great man.”
The target for The Speed Cycle has been set at £65,000 – representing the 65 times boyhood Blue Speed played for his beloved Everton during a glittering playing career. The first donation towards that fundraising target has already been made by Gary’s parents, Roger and Carol, from the Gary Speed Foundation – a charity that was founded in Gary’s memory following his tragic suicide in 2011.
All money raised from The Speed Cycle will go towards helping Everton in the Community reach its £1million fundraising target to build The People’s Place – a purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park that will support anyone in times of need.
For more information on The People’s Place visit www.peoplesplace.net.