Specsavers Ellesmere Port sent shoppers into a spin recently, by inviting fundraising hero Mike Faulkner to cycle on Marina Walk to raise money for Claire House.

£700 raised

Generous Specsavers customers donated £345 to Mike , who is preparing to embark on a 30-mile bike ride between London and Paris this July. Specsavers Ellesmere Port pledged to match the amount donated, bringing the fundraising total for the day to almost £700.

Mike says, ‘We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who put their hands in their pockets over the weekend. We were overwhelmed by the support from Specsavers customers and passers-by. The money donated really is going to an amazing cause.

The hospice is a lifeline

‘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.’

Hero of the Year

Last month, Specsavers announced Mike as its Hero of the Year and pledged to champion him in his bid to raise more than £4,500 for children’s hospice Claire House. He and two colleagues will cycle 100 miles a day between London and Paris in a gruelling test for a cause close to Mike’s heart.

On Saturday the store put the wheels in motion on that promise, as Specsavers was decked out in balloons, banners and collection buckets while Mike and his colleague and cycling partner Stuart Edwards rode their bikes outside all day.

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 and then by opening up the store to the cyclists this weekend to help them raise even further funds.

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.’

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.

Fantastic support from Specsavers

‘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.’

Specsavers Ellesmere Port will continue to support Mike and his team mates throughout their preparation for the London to Paris cycle between 20 July and ends on 24 July. To donate to Claire House and help Mike raise funds, pop into Specsavers in Port Arcades or visit his Just Giving page.

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