Virtual Velo riders go around the world for UHB Charity


Earlier this year, University Hospitals Birmingham Charity launched Virtual Velo, a cycling event that asked participants to cycle 100 miles, in their own time, to raise funds to support the Charity’s work across the West Midlands.

The Virtual Velo participants have been pedalling hard over recent weeks and together have now cycled over 24,000 miles – nearly the same distance as the circumference of the world!

Many participants chose to take on the 100 mile challenge, whilst others decided to push themselves further and take on the Marathon Challenge, aiming to cycle 2,620 miles over the course of the summer.

UHB Charity set up the Virtual Velo event following the news that Velo Birmingham & Midlands 2020 was not going ahead due to the on-going pandemic. Since then, many of those who were due to take on the 100 mile event have turned their attention to Virtual Velo.

One such cyclist is Carl Burkitt, who currently sits on top of the Virtual Velo leaderboard having completed an incredible 3,894 miles since he began his challenge at the beginning of July.

Carl, pictured on one of his many rides this summer.

Carl said: “I’ve really enjoyed taking on the Virtual Velo challenge, I was shielding for 16 weeks so it gave me something to focus on. I’ve been clocking up the miles on my indoor bike and it’s been great to raise funds to support UHB Charity.”

Carl has raised over £800 through his Virtual Velo challenge, and has been inspired by the memory of his dad, Alan, to raise funds for the hospital charity. Alan passed away in 2017, having received treatment for prostate cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Carl said: “The treatment he had extended his life and gave us all years more memories with him, in particular memories of him with my son, Sam. The money that I have raised will be going towards the Charity’s prostate cancer fund, helping them to do more to tackle this disease. I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated to my page!” You can support Carl's fundraising here.

Another fundraiser to have completed the Marathon Challenge is Roger Barker, who lives with his wife, Lynn, in Ludlow. Lynn was diagnosed with advanced skin cancer in 2018 and went on to receive treatment at QEHB where it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain.

Roger Barker from Ludlow, who has helped the team cycle around the world.

She went on to have complex neurological surgery, followed by CyberKnife treatment. Lynn has gone on to receive a course of innovative immunotherapy as part of a trial at the hospital, also funded thanks to generous donations to UHB Charity. Roger said: “We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support Lynn has received, and the ground-breaking work that UHB Charity is funding.

“I wanted to do something that will go some way to repaying them and also assist the research that will benefit cancer patients across the board. I greatly enjoyed taking on the Marathon Velo Challenge and I am incredibly grateful for the wonderful generosity shown by everyone who has donated to my page.” You can sponsor Roger here.

Roger’s cycling efforts has raised over £6,000 which will help UHB Charity to continue funding its ambitious Immunotherapy research trials, which have the potential to change the way that cancers are treated.

Mike Hammond, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Charity, said: “We are so proud of our amazing Virtual Velo riders for all that they have achieved over the past few months. Our cyclists have pedalled around the world to raise funds to support our work, and they have all enjoyed keeping us up to date with their progress.

“The money that they have raised will help us to continue funding cutting-edge equipment, world leading research and added extras for our patients across our hospitals. More than ever, we are grateful for the generous support that we receive that allows us to make a huge difference to our patients and staff every day.”

Find out more about the Virtual Velo Challenge here.

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University Hospitals Birmingham Charity is a company limited by guarantee in England (No.10004003) and a charity registered in England and Wales (No.1165716).Registered Office: 5th Floor Nuffield House, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

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