Felpham teaching assistant to take on 500-mile bike ride from Glasgow to Bognor for Alzheimer’s Society
A teaching assistant from Felpham is set to take on a 500-mile cycling challenge to mark his dad’s 70th birthday and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
James ‘Jim’ Coyle has been living with Alzheimer’s for the past 12 years, and his son Joe Coyle is taking on the bike ride to raise awareness of the effect the disease has on people and their loved ones.
Joe, who works at Slindon Primary School, said: “The last few years have been very difficult for us as a family, with myself struggling mentally at times to get through school, college and university.
“Throughout this time I have come to realise that perhaps not enough people, not just my age but in general, truly know just how heartbreaking and awful Alzheimer’s is.
“I would really like more people to hear not just my story but ask the question if there is anyone else out there similar to me.
“I was just 13 years of age when my Dad started slowly deteriorating and I can speak from the heart when I say it is not just the person themselves who suffers, but the family as a whole.”
The 24-year-old will be joined on the cycle ride next month by brother Andy Coyle and friends Andre Didon, Tim Josephs and Brandon Smith.
The group will be retracing the route from Jim’s old house in the Gorbals area Glasgow back down to Bognor Regis, where he has lived the majority of his life with wife Sylvia and their children.
Joe said: “The route we are planning on cycling has a lot of meaning behind it and is actually one that Dad hitchhiked himself at my age to start a new and better life for himself.
“Dad lived in Littlehampton for years, with this being his first place visiting Mum, where she had made her home after not seeing her for several years, before eventually deciding to live the rest of his life in Felpham.
“As we cycle the miles I will be thinking about the journey Dad took, not just when hitchhiking but throughout his life as he overcame so much.
“As a family of a loved one who has suffered with the cruel disease that is Alzheimer’s, we have endured the pain of perpetual grief, the raw wound of continual loss, the struggle to preserve dignity and the desire to respect the present and cling on to the past.
“However, in the midst of all the heartache, I have come to learn that we do hold on to the small glimmer of light that exists, and reminds ourselves of the things that Alzheimers hasn’t taken away, the warmth of a touch, the importance of smiles, laughter, and the knowledge of what it truly means to experience unconditional love and acceptance – something our Dad taught us all.”
Joe, who is due to start teacher training at the University of Chichester in September, has already raised more than £2,500 for the Alzheimer’s Society, and hopes to continue to get as many donations as possible ahead of the bike ride between August 9-16.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joe-coyle4