A former Olympian from Lichfield is taking on a month-long cycling challenge to raise money for charity.

Alan Rapley
Alan Rapley

Alan Rapley, who captained the British swimming team at the Games in 1996, will ride in memory of his dad Ron who died from a brain tumour in 2016.

The former athlete, who now works with Team GB coaches, will take part in the Cycle 274 Miles in August to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Alan, who also volunteers as head coach at Lichfield Swimming Club, said:

“Dad was a very active man, having played sport at a high level all his life. Even at the age of 75 he was a brilliant table tennis player.

“Dad was initially diagnosed in August 2016 with motor neurone disease after he started limping and then, as the limping got worse, falling over.

“It was terrible to hear that this meant a slow death over a three to five-year time span. Dad even talked about taking his life and going to Switzerland.

“However, just a month later, with Dad constantly falling over, he underwent further tests, including an MRI scan. It revealed an inoperable glioblastoma multiforme tumour across both lobes at the base of his brain.

“To our horror, he was then given a survival prognosis of just six to nine months.”

Alan Rapley
Ron and Rita Rapley
Ron and Rita Rapley

Ron underwent a few weeks of radiotherapy, but deteriorated quickly.

When he became bed-bound his wife Rita cared for him at their home in Nottingham with the support of carers.

Ron died just three months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

“Until Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer, I never realised how aggressive and devastating brain tumours can be, or that 88% of patients with this disease die within five years.

“I took up cycling fairly recently and – working at the top end of sport – I find that it helps me clear my mind, as well as being really enjoyable.”

Alan Rapley

Cycle 274 Miles in August is an exciting new virtual challenge which can be completed outdoors, in the gym, or at home on a static bike.

Melanie Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said:

“We are really grateful to Alan for taking on this challenge in Ron’s memory – it will no doubt motivate people to consider donating or maybe signing up to take part in the challenge themselves.

“Cycle 274 Miles in August is a fantastic challenge as it encourages people to get out, enjoy the fresh air and raise vital funds to help find a cure for this devastating disease.

“The miles can be clocked up virtually, or in any way that suits you and at your own pace. Join our Facebook group to find out more about how to get involved.”

Melanie Tiley

People can support Alan’s fundraising efforts via his online page.