"It hit us hard" - Mansfield friends rally round man who got cancer day before birth of son
Friends from Mansfield are getting on their bikes to rally round a man who was diagnosed with a killer cancer the day before his wife gave birth.
For they are to tackle the arduous, 141-mile C2C (Coast to Coast) cycle ride from Cumbria to Sunderland to raise money for a charity that can help.
Tragedy struck Adam Richmond, 44, at the end of 2019 when he contracted multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer that can affect several areas of the body.
Twenty-four hours later, pregnant wife Petra, 36, was induced so that Adam could spend a week with newborn son Bill before he started his treatment.
He was plunged into intense bouts of chemotherapy, completing his sixth cycle last July before undergoing a stem cell transplant.
Thankfully, he is now stable. But multiple myeloma has no cure, so his life expectancy can be anything from six months to eight years.
His plight stunned a group of nine close friends, who are to embark on their three-day cycling challenge this Thursday.
Amazingly, more than £10,000 has been raised already for the Multiple Myeloma UK charity. And even more amazingly, the intrepid cyclists will be joined by Adam himself, who is hoping to complete the marathon.
"If Adam can pull this off, he will become an inspiration to everyone else with multiple myeloma,” said Ben Henshaw, 44, who has helped to organise the challenge. “It would be an incredible achievement.
"We have all been friends for a long time, and Adam’s illness hit us hard. It is very sad.
"It is so rare for someone of his age to get this condition. It usually happens to people in their 60s.”
Poignantly, Ben’s own mother, Heather Henshaw, died from the same type of cancer, at the age of 68, in 2015. She was a well-known former chair of Mansfield District Council, while her charity work for the NSPCC earned her the MBE.
Indeed many of the C2C cyclists are well-known in Mansfield or have strong links to successful family businesses in the area.
Adam himself, who lives in Epperstone, is the son of Philip Richmond, who owned Jollys Jewellers for many years before retiring.
Ben, who went to school with Adam at Worksop College, runs Henshaw Fitted Furniture, while police officer James Campin, 44, is the son of Adam Campin, who runs Martin Wilkinson Jewellers.
Edward Deverill, 44, and Paul Gilby, 50, are at the helm of Kordus, an asbestos management consultancy, while Chris Jeffery, 46, works for joinery contractor Construction Services, and 45-year-old Robyn Edwards is with the Huthwaite-based Whitemeadow Furniture firm.
They will all be joined by Ben’s 15-year-old son, Jamie, Edward’s 42-year-old brother, William, and another friend, Richard Boot, 46.
Only William and Paul are regular cyclists. The rest are novices, and 18-stone Ben is having to tackle the challenge on an electric bike because work commitments hampered his training preparations.
But all are determined to complete the route, which extends across the Lake District and the Pennines, and features several tough climbs.
As for Adam himself, he has been in training for the ride since January. This is what he told the initiative’s Facebook page, The Big C2C Bike Ride For Adam Richmond:
"I am nervous that we are aiming to do this on mountain-bikes in just three days.
"It is a big challenge and it will be seriously hard work.
"I don’t know how tired I will get. Sometimes fatigue hits me like a ton of bricks, but getting fit if the best weapon I have against fatigue, so it’s a two-edged sword.”
Before his diagnosis, Adam was a highly respected clinical director and lead osteopath at The Lace Market Clinic in Nottingham. He and Petra also have a daughter, five-year-old Lucy.
"He no longer works, but he has been very lucky in that his treatment has been relatively unaffected by Covid-19, and his cancer levels are now low,” explained Ben.
"Some day, those levels will rise again. It’s a case of watching and waiting.
"The good news, however, is that blood cancer is an area in which there has been tremendous development in recent years, and there may even be an outside chance of a cure being developed before Adam’s levels rise again.”
Credit for much of that development must go to Multiple Myeloma UK, which is dedicated to improving research and treatment, as well as providing information and support for patients and their families.
It relies entirely on fundraising and donations, so will benefit massively from this C2C venture.
Almost 200 supporters have already dug deep to help amass a total of £10,656, while several local businesses have donated prizes for an auction and raffle.
As well as Henshaw Fitted Furniture, Construction Services and Whitemeadow Furniture, those businesses include real-estate developers Dukeries Homes Ltd, of Mansfield, Maurice Hill Transport, of Kirkby, Industria bar, of Mansfield, the Dog And Duck pub at Clipstone, and Spring Lakes watersports and leisure centre at Long Eaton.
The only hiccup suffered by the initiative so far was the need to cancel a charity barbecue last Saturday because of Covid restrictions.
But bids were still accepted for the auction and tickets were still drawn for the raffle, generating a total of £3,000.
A delighted Ben described the response as “fabulous” and thanked everyone for their support.
Now for the serious business on the bikes. He added: “This is not just a ride, it’s a race.
"It is our race to do everything we can to help find a cure for this horrible disease before it’s too late. Please dig deep.”
If you would like to donate to the cause, please go the friends’ Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-henshaw3