The story of the Oxford Rural Cycle4Life Charity Bike Ride to date
Janet Russell was diagnosed with cancer in 1991. After Janet had been treated for Cancer of the stomach at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford she, and her friend Janet Gilley, decided they wanted to show their appreciation to Professor Adrian Harris and staff for the care and treatment they had received. With Prof. Harris’s encouragement, a group was formed to support the new Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Oncology Unit. It was aptly named The Churchill Partners to emphasise the link between the care and treatment of patients and the clinical research carried out in the ICRF (now Cancer Research UK (CR UK)) laboratories.
The biggest fund-raiser established by Janet was a sponsored cycle ride for friends and family and she chose parts of the Oxfordshire Cycleway around Otmoor for a circular route of 22 miles. The first ride took place in 1992 and made around £2,000. It started with a sea of yellow t-shirts outside Janet’s house, spanning three generations of family and friends. Since then the Bike Ride has taken place every year (with one exception) – it has grown, and now starts and finishes from Islip village hall over a slightly shorter route of 18 miles with optional loops to increase the length to 34 or 50 miles.
In its 19th year, the bike ride was rebranded the Oxford Rural 22 Bike Ride in order to attract a wider audience.
In 2017, 26 years after the ride was started it was rebranded to the Oxford Rural Cycle4life and will celebrate it's 25th ride.
The ride has raised over £117,000 in the 24 rides that have taken place to date. To this point the money has been used directly to support a research nurse at the Churchill Hospital. From 2017 onwards, the money will be going towards the The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre (find more information here).