An Ellesmere Port opticians has backing local man Mike Faulkner as its Hero of the Year, pledging to support him in his bid to raise more than £4,500 for Claire House.

A big challenge in support of Claire House

59 year old Mike, a transport co-ordinator from Great Sutton, approached Specsavers in Port Arcades for help after agreeing to embark on a 300 mile bike ride between London and Paris. The feat will see him and two colleagues cycle 100 miles a day, in a gruelling test for a cause close to Mike’s heart.

Ian's story

Mike says, “Claire House was a lifeline to me and my family for ten years, providing a place of respite, reassurance and support throughout my son’s illness. Ian was born with autism and learning difficulties and kidney problems. As he got older, he developed other issues including epilepsy and renal failure.

“We became aware of Claire House when Ian was 14, and despite being a children’s hospice they supported us all until he was 23. Ian’s mental age was about eight or nine, so we really needed the care and help that Claire House could offer. He passed away in 2012, aged 25, having received amazing long term support from the hospice. I’ve set myself this challenge to support the hospice, and all the families still relying on it, as I know exactly what it means to depend on its service.”

Support from Specsavers

Paul Quinton, store manager at Specsavers Ellesmere Port, jumped at the chance to get behind Mike and colleagues Steve Tennant and Stuart Edwards, beginning by providing cycling kits and a turbo booster to the team.

Paul comments, “Mike’s story really struck a chord with us, and we are doing everything we can to help him reach his fundraising target and support him along the way. A lot of us in store have stories about Claire House, and the incredible care it’s given to people we know. We’re really inspired by Mike’s determination in what will be an incredibly difficult challenge. We want to help.”

Gruelling training

Mike comments, “I’m training a lot at the moment. I cycle to work every day and whenever else I can, I go to spinning classes several nights a week - I’m more or less trying to fit in training at every opportunity. I used to run marathons as a younger man and have zip wired, sky dived and abseiled in the past, but I’m no Bear Grylls. This will be a big challenge.

“I’m lucky to have my two workmates by my side, and the support from Specsavers, and Paul in particular, has been fantastic. While I’m trying to help Claire House, my amazing daughter Katie has dedicated her life to helping children battling serious illness. She’s a paediatric nurse on the intensive care unit at Alder Hey - something she’s wanted to do since she was little, and witnessed the care and help that Ian’s medical team provided. She is an inspiration.”

How to help

Specsavers Ellesmere Port will continue to support Mike and his team mates throughout their preparation for the London to Paris cycle between 20th July and ends on 24th July. To donate to Claire House and help Mike raise funds, pop into Specsavers in Port Arcades which is collecting for Hero of the Year, Mike.

Mike, Steve, and Stu will also be cycling in store on April 23rd, when customers are invited to come along and show their support.

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