York Father Prepares for ‘Roman Ride’ Challenge

03 September 2018

A father-of-two from York is preparing to cycle 280 miles to say thank you for the cancer treatment and care received by his mum.

Lee Rycraft, a director at Lloyds Banking Group, will be joined by 15 friends when he embarks on the ‘Roman Ride’ challenge, a self-organised charity bike ride from and to the Ancient Roman cities of York and Bath. 

The team will set off on their three-day ride from York Minster on Friday, 21 September. They will start the challenge beside the statue of Constantine the Great, a Roman Emperor who ruled between 306 and 337 AD. The group will then travel through as many Roman towns as possible, using old Roman roads, before finishing their ride at the Roman Baths in Bath. 

Lee Rycraft (right) with his mum Karen (centre) and some of the friends that will be joining him on the Roman Ride in front of the statue of Constantine the Great outside York Minster. 

Lee, 38, said: “I’m originally from a town just outside Bath and have friends in both cities. With little persuasion, 15 friends volunteered to do the ride with me. Some are old school friends so I’m looking forward to the reunion. It’s been really touching how people reach out to support you when you decide to do something like this.

“None of us were fit cyclists and we all have busy lives and young children, so finding time for training has been really important. We’ve all been affected by cancer in some way, and many of us are riding either in memory of someone we’ve lost or in celebration and tribute to those who have successfully recovered.”

Lee’s mum Karen was diagnosed with cancer in her tonsil in 2014, while living near Bath. Following treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she recovered from her illness.

Two years ago, Karen and her husband moved to Haxby to be closer to their grandchildren. Unfortunately, last year Karen’s oral cancer returned and she required major surgery to remove the tumour and reconstruct her mouth.

As a result of the operation, Karen has changes to her speech and is also unable to eat or drink normally, receiving nutrients and fluids artificially through a tube. Karen’s cancer returned for a third time earlier this year, but following further treatment she is again cancer-free. 

Throughout this time, Karen has also suffered from dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle spasms.

Lee and his friends have already raised more than £6,000 for their three chosen charities – Yorkshire Cancer Research, Cancer Research UK and The Dystonia Society.

Lee said: “Watching mum go through such a challenging time over the last four years has been incredibly difficult. Since the first diagnosis, life has been filled with emotion - at times huge lows but thankfully moments of elations when the amazing health professionals are able to deliver positive news.

“Throughout it all my mum somehow finds the strength to hold it together mentally and focus on tomorrow. She is still smiling, which I find pretty inspirational and as her son I feel very proud.

“As amazing as the surgeons and nurses and biotechnology researchers are, they need help and the only way that someone like me can help them and all those impacted by cancer is to try and raise some financial support.”

Karen added: “I’m so grateful for the excellent care, treatment and support I received from all members of the ‘Head and Neck’ team at York District Hospital and the NHS throughout. 

“Oral cancers are often not identified in the early stages. I would advise that everyone is aware of mouth cancers and to see a GP if they notice any changes in their mouth. More research into kinder treatments for this type of cancer is vital.”

To follow the group’s progress, search The Roman Ride – York to Bath on Facebook. To sponsor the group, visit www.ycr.org.uk/romanride


Banner image caption: Lee’s parents Peter and Karen Rycraft with his daughters Mabel and Evie during a family outing to Aysgarth Falls.


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: nikki@ycr.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
    • Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
  • For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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