An island man is embarking on a gruelling cycle ride around Australia to raise money for four local charities, dubbed the ‘Wight Heroes’, as well as national charity, Prostate Cancer UK.
The ‘Wight Heroes’
charities are: Challenge and Adventure, IW Pride, Isle of Wight Zoo and Layla’s Trust.
Ian Gregory, from Gunville, is aiming to cycle 2000 miles around Southern Australia over the course of
25 days. His anti-clockwise route starts south of Sydney, takes in Adelaide and ends up in Melbourne.
Ian has an impressive history of fundraising through a variety of cycling events, including riding seven
stages of the Tour de France and a 24 hour pedal on a turbo trainer. He has raised over £4000 in 2017
alone. Most of his previous fundraising activities have been to raise funds and awareness for national
charity, Prostate Cancer UK. This is a charity that is close to Ian’s heart after losing a family member to
the disease in 2010.
What makes Ian’s fundraising efforts even more impressive is that he has been registered as disabled
since 1996 due to a number of medical issues including fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Ian says: “After being told by doctors and surgeons that it would never happen, I finally got back on a
road bike in May 2015. Later that same year, I was looking for a challenge as a goal to reach and found
the ‘Grand Depart’, the first stage of the 2016 Tour de France in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. The
fundraising bug just continued on from there!”
For the cycle ride around Australia, Ian decided that, in addition to raising money for Prostate Cancer UK
again, he also wanted to support charities a little closer to home as well and selected four island-based
organisations that he felt were deserving.
Ian says: “Sadly, my wife and I have first hand experience of losing a child. It took us years to cope with
the loss and so Layla’s Trust holds a special place in our hearts. Also with Emma Cotter (chair of Layla’s
Trust) being a fellow ‘Local Hero’, we thought this would be an ideal time to work together. As for IW
Pride, I feel that in this day and age people should be allowed to be who they feel they are and not a
stereotype of what society expect. Again, as a fellow ‘Local Hero’, I thought it would be great to join in a
partnership of collaboration for the year in fundraising and awareness. Challenge & Adventure is a
charity that I wish had been around when I was younger. There are underprivileged children out there
right now who need the support of others to let them know they are worth something, they can aspire
to be whatever they want to be and that they are cared about and loved. And finally, the Isle of Wight
Zoo is one of the pure gems of the Isle of Wight. As a child, I remember Mr Corney walking the tigers on
a lead down the beach at the Yaverland. The zoo is an amazing place and one that desperately need the
continued support of all visitors.Sometimes we forget that it is not just people who need our charity; it’s
our natural world that also desperately needs our love and care as we share this planet together.”
The ride takes place between 3rd and the 28th January and supporters can follow Ian’s progress via a
dedicated satellite tracking system and via the Wight Heroes Facebook page: …………………. Ian will be
taking a special friend with him to Australia (a small stuffed tiger, named Zena in memory of Isle of
Wight Zoo’s much-loved white tiger, who died last month) and will also be raising awareness of LGBT+
rights and issues around the world, on behalf of IW Pride. During his ride, Ian also plans to raise money
and awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
As for the future, Ian says: “My ultimate goal is to cycle the Transcontinental Race in 2019 and then to
ride across America one day. Ultimately though, I don’t see why I can’t raise money for charity doing
something I enjoy. Why can’t others benefit? Why do it just for fun when you can make someone’s life
that little bit better?”
About Prostate Cancer UK: The Prostate Cancer Charity was founded in 1996 and was the first national
organisation for prostate cancer in the UK. Their aim was to improve the care and welfare of those
affected by prostate cancer, increase investment in research, and raise public and political awareness of
a long-neglected disease. They started small: five members of staff and a helpline housed in a small
room in Hammersmith hospital. It ran one day a week. They merged with Prostate Action in 2012 and
completely rebranded to form Prostate Cancer UK. In the last 20 years, they’ve invested over £37 million
into ground breaking research, and continue to provide award-winning support for men.
About Challenge and Adventure: Challenge & Adventure was set up in 1992 to help disadvantaged and
challenging young people on the Isle of Wight. The charity works with young people aged 12 to 19 and
uses adventurous and challenging outdoor activities alongside tailored support to help raise their
confidence, self esteem and aspirations.The young people that the charity works with includes those
with behavioural issues, those at risk of being excluded from school, those with physical and mental
disabilities, the socially excluded and those from areas of disadvantage. Challenge and Adventure’s aim
is to help young people re-engage at school, home and in the wider community and to get their lives
back on track, as a charity it relies on grants, donations and the generosity of its volunteers to ensure its
work with young people can continue.
About IW Pride: 2017 saw the first ever Pride on the Isle of Wight. With thousands in attendance, it was
an incredibly successful inaugural Pride event which resulted in positive feedback from attendees across
the UK. The event had a huge impact on many of the people who attended, feeling comfortable and safe
enough to ‘come out’ for the first time. They are absolutely delighted to be hosting UK Pride 2018 and
have exciting plans to showcase the best of the island to an international audience.
About Isle of Wight Zoo: The Isle of Wight Zoo is a well-established, popular wildlife centre based on the
east coast of the Island and family owned for over 40 years. Following many years under private
ownership, it is the Island’s original zoo and is well-loved by the local community and widely visited by
residents as well as tourists. The zoo has recently become part of The Wildheart Trust, a charity which
was founded to secure a long-term future for the zoo and enable it to fulfil its global ambitions to make
a really meaningful impact on the health of the natural world while improving the wellbeing of animals
in human care. The zoo is dedicated to engaging, involving and empowering people from both the heart
and the head – one of its most important tasks is to convert ‘care’ into ‘action’. It is also committed to
providing a life-long, loving home to rescued big cats and other animal residents and the team work
holistically to ensure each individual has an enriched and meaningful life.
About Layla’s Trust: Layla’s Trust was set up in April 2012 in memory of baby Layla Mae Cotter, who
died in February 2011, aged just 70 days old. She was born with Gaucher Disease Type 2 and spent most
of her short life at St. Mary’s Hospital on the island. Layla’s Trust works to support recently bereaved
families where a child has died and help families who have children with life limiting disabilities and
terminal illnesses on the Isle of Wight. The majority of their financial support goes toward helping
families with weekly financial assistance when undergoing mainland treatment under their Crisis Aid
programme. Layla’s Trust also works to support the local hospital, other organisations and the
community teams in improving facilities and services where possible for families.