Friends set for charity cycle in aid of ex-Irish international Andy Patterson
Former Ireland international Kyle McCallan and a group of close friends will set off on Saturday morning on a 24-hour cycle around every cricket club in the NCU, covering 400km in aid of Andy Patterson.
Patterson, who played 61 times for Ireland, was diagnosed with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) which causes weakness and stiffness in the leg muscles, in 2013.
The condition will result in wheelchair confinement and the 45-year-old former wicketkeeper-batsman has had to make renovations to his home in London in order to make life more comfortable.
That’s when McCallan and a bunch of Patterson’s former team-mates and good friends came together to set up Pedal4Patto.
McCallan, Jonny Bushe, Neil Cahill, Ivor Monaghan, Enda Marron, Jonny Lowe, Mark Patton and Ian Latham will leave The Mall in Armagh at 10am this morning before making their way around each ground in the Union and ending in Greenisland around the same time on Sunday morning.
Their efforts have already raised in excess of £21,000 and after putting the hard yards in during training, McCallan says the team are ready to go.
“The training has been good,” said McCallan.
“We have been mixing it up and trying to build ourselves up.
“We started with a lap of the Lough which we thought was a reasonable achievement doing 126km and we built it up to two weeks ago where we did 250km.
“We went from Lisburn around the North Antrim Coast, Ballycastle, Portrush through Ballymena and back into Lisburn.
“That was the longest we did and we’ve tapered back from then. We did another 130km at the weekend and I did 60km (on Wednesday evening) and that’ll be me.”
Preparing for the ride has also helped bring old friends together that haven’t been able to spend as much time as they’d like together in recent years due to a range of other commitments.
“Initially with Covid we couldn’t go out and train as a group so were going out in pairs and more recently have went out in three and fours,” added McCallan.
“Jonny Bushe and I played a lot of cricket together but when he stopped playing we didn’t see each other as much so it has been great to spend time with him and Jonny Lowe who I worked with for a long time at Grosvenor.
“We don’t see each other as much as we like so it has been a great catalyst for seeing a lot more of each other.”
Despite the daunting challenges cycling 400km brings, McCallan is excited for the weekend after it was delayed by a couple of weeks due to Covid restrictions.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” he added.
“I’m sure it will be challenging but we are going to enjoy and make the most of it.
“We have a bit of confidence. We got round our 250km rightly and when we finished it wasn’t like we couldn’t get off the bike.
“I’m sure it’s going to be challenging.
“Once we get to the 300-350km mark it’ll be tough but we will be on the home straight and hopefully be able to see ourselves through.
“Right at the end coming from Templepatrick to Larne and onto Carrick is where most of the climbing will be but we will egg each other on!”
One of the most pleasing aspects of the fundraising efforts for McCallan has been the way in which the whole Irish cricket community has come together to support one of their own.
Bobby Rao organised a North West version with the likes of Decker Curry and Aggie Riddles cycling from Strabane to Muckamore which has helped raise crucial funds.
“It has been terrific,” said McCallan.
“Monetarily the fundraising was very important for us.
“Andy has been through a tough time and we wanted to show him that there are a lot of people supporting him and wanted to get the cricket community behind him as well as his close mates.
“The fact that Bobby has organised the North West cycle and the fact that Decker, who Andy opened the batting with at an ICC Trophy and played with at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, is doing it is a lovely touch and that’ll mean the world to Andy.
“We have brought everybody together in the NCU and North West and have had a lot of support from clubs south of the border too. I’m really proud of the cricket community.”
Patterson has been in contact with his friends in the lead up to the cycle and McCallan is happy to be able to help his mate out in any way he can.
“He’s humbled,” he added.
“He has messaged the boys individually and said he’s deeply humbled by it. He has been through a lot and he has been extremely courageous about it and continues to be.
“We were the best of friends and grew up together myself, Mark, Jonny, Ian, Andy – we went through university together and hung about together at school age. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers.”
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