HALFWAY between Land’s End and Highworth, it suddenly dawned on Dr John Bestwick that he had bitten off more than he could chew, but this realisation did not stop him from completing a 300-mile cycle ride in support of Gloucester House.
Accompanied by his 25-year-old son Tom, the GP at Westrop Medical Practice embarked on the gruelling journey on Friday afternoon, finally reaching home on Sunday.
Difficulties were numerous along the way, not least the hilly terrain and a slight distance miscalculation, which meant the already challenging route from Cornwall to Highworth ended up covering 50 more miles than expected.
But the 54-year-old keen cyclist powered through for the Salvation Army drugs and alcohol rehabilitation centre, raising £4,000 through his efforts and unfailing resolve.
“I cycle quite a lot but I didn’t do any training for it which I probably should have done,” he said. “I underestimated the distance and how hard it would be. It is very hilly in Devon and Cornwall.
“The hardest part was keeping going and maintaining 14 miles an hour.
“But we did it and we raised a little over £4,000 thanks to generous patients and through hassling friends and family for donations.
“I’m not sure it was fun but I can say it was a profound experience. My son Tom said you’d better do something that’s quite hard for people to sponsor you. And it was an ordeal. “ John has collected more than £11,000 over the years for Gloucester House in Highworth, an organisation which supports people whose lives have been affected by substance misuse, homelessness and mental health issues.
While most of the addicts’ recovery at the rehabilitation facilities is funded by statutory bodies, many who would benefit from treatment are not. This prompted Gloucester House to launch its on-going fundraising appeal Buy A Bed, Save Life to allow staff to offer places to as many people in need as possible.
“By the time people arrive at Gloucester House they’ve lost their children, house and marriage and they are at rock bottom,” he added. “People at the rehabilitation centre build them back up.
“Most people who go there are funded but a significant proportion of people would benefit from it and don’t get funding. And the Buy a Bed scheme is trying to get money for extra beds.
“The idea was also to raise awareness of Gloucester House. A lot of people there had successful jobs and careers and went off the rails. There is a lot of support for the place in Highworth but some people still don’t know what they do there. In the same situation as these people, all of us might end up in the same boat. “ To make a donation to Dr Bestwick visit www.justgiving.com/john-bestwick1/ To donate to Gloucester House go on www.gloucesterhouse.org.uk.