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Building services engineer gets on his bike for epic charity ride

A big-hearted building services engineer is to cycle 300 miles through Southeast Asia for charity.

A big-hearted building services engineer is to cycle 300 miles through Southeast Asia for charity.Rodney Clarke (left) and Neil Gibbard

Rodney Clarke, 52, will be joining an 18-strong team from across the UK in cycling from Saigon in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia over six days, starting on October 28, to raise money for Challenge Cancer UK.

Having smashed his individual target of £3,000 in only three months, Mr Clarke is leading the field with pledges of more than £4,750, and is now aiming to clock up £5,000.

The ride has been organised by the Cannock office of one of his employer’s suppliers, air conditioning installation specialist, Coolair Equipment.

Coolair, which is headquartered in Manchester with an additional office in Maidstone, led a similar expedition in 2015 which raised £90,000 for Challenge Cancer UK. 

Mr Clarke, who lives in Rugeley and works for building services provider Dodd Group, will face the challenges of cycling for up to eight hours a day along narrow paths and unmade cross country tracks in stifling heat and humidity as part of Team Coolair.

He has been preparing for the event with weight training and by taking part in monthly cycling events across the Midlands. Having recently completed the 35-mile Sportive Peak Epic in the Peak District, he is now planning to cycle the 60-mile Warwickshire Sportive on September 2.

Mr Clarke said he only took up cycling last year to get in shape for his daughter Amelia’s wedding this summer, and has been feeling the benefit since. He commented: “Cycling has changed my life and I am totally committed to it. I am delighted to have lost two and a half stone in weight, and I eat and feel better than I have ever done.”

“The invitation from Neil Gibbard of Coolair to join Team Coolair came at just the right time when I was losing weight for the wedding. When Neil also told me that it would involve raising money for a charity that distributes funds across the range of cancer support, I didn’t hesitate in signing up. After all, we all know of families, friends and colleagues who have been affected by cancer.”

Mr Clarke’s fundraising success, he said, has been down to persuading his employer’s subcontractors and suppliers to sponsor him in exchange for having their logos on the T-shirts he will be wearing: “I offered a sole sponsorship option and the take-up has been so great that I’ve had to have twice the number of shirts produced.”   

He also donated a four-ball at the Forest of Arden in Warwickshire as an auction prize at Coolair’s recent charity summer ball, held at Aston Wood in Sutton Coldfield, which raised £4,750 towards the bike ride.

Neil Gibbard, Coolair regional director and the event organiser, said: “Rodney has been leading the way in raising sponsorship money for our bike ride as we aim to raise a record-breaking six-figure sum this year for such a great cause.”

To sponsor Mr Clarke, visit www.justgiving.com/Rodney-Clarke

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