Andy McKinney is full of pride when he remembers his dad, Paul, who was with us at Wirral Hospice St John’s until October 2019 when he passed away, having lived with throat and lung cancer for several years.
“The hospice couldn’t do enough for my dad. The nurses were so attentive and the care he received was, honestly, second to none. He’d be delighted now that we’re aiming to raise some funds for the hospice with our bike ride from Chester to Amsterdam. The lads have been training so hard to make him proud.”
Yes, on Wednesday 19th August, Andy and six other friends will be setting off on their bikes from the iconic Eastgate Clock in Chester to arrive three days later, via the Hook of Holland port, to Amsterdam Rijksmuseum (not ‘bikes museum’!)
It’s a grueling and intense ride from one beautiful City to another. The first day is, just the 71 miles, the steepest in climbs (up to around nearly 1400 feet in parts), will see them eventually settle for the evening in the Pennines at Thurlstone MillHouse.
Then, day two is the small matter of 82 miles from South to East Yorkshire to Hull, again the undulating terrain which will test even the keenest of riders.
Having taken the ferry from Hull to Hook of Holland (Hoek Van Holland) on the third leg of their epic journey they ride out on the final 45 mile ride up to Amsterdam. Thankfully in Holland, as everyone knows, the land is a little flatter so that should help on the now, extremely, tired legs.
Andy tells me a little bit more about his dad, (they’re pictured together here enjoying a drink).
Paul was born in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada and Andy’s the middle sibling of three brothers all also born in Canada.
As you might guess Ice Hockey was a favourite sport and when Paul and his sons came to the UK, he coached the Deeside Junior Ice Hockey club, The Deeside Dragons. He was held in great affection by many young people, being seen as a teacher and mentor by everyone who enjoyed their time there.
He lived in Chester for many years before settling in Wirral with his beloved Tarnya whom he met at the winter Ice Rink at Chester Zoo which he managed and where she was head of first aid.
They settled in Wirral where Paul’s passion for the whole region flourished, so much so, that Andy says they could have made him a Blue Badge Tour Guide for all of his visiting friends and relatives.
Before, during and, really, despite his illness Paul always motivated his sons to develop positive attitudes, to follow their dreams, travel the world and challenge themselves to new things and sporting achievements.
Andy himself is now a professional player in the National Ice Hockey League for Telford Tigers and, although he’s too humble to say, a google search shows he’s more than capable of handling himself in a very tough sport!
So you just know that, as they’re all set to go, the team made up of Andy and friends, Joel Bate, Tom Briggs, Matt Davison, Luke Briggs, Jack Watkins and Ross Kennedy will be in good shape to complete the challenge.
Andy launched a Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-paul-mckinney setting a challenging target of £10,000 between them to make a great donation to the hospice.
Great good luck chaps. Or ‘Succes’ (no extra ‘s’) as the Dutch will definitely say.
Author: Billy Howard