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Spectrum cycle team hit John O'Groats to raise autism awareness


By David G Scott

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Four members from an autism specific care provider made it to the end of the road on Thursday after 1000 miles of intense cycling across the UK from Land's End.

The Spectrum charity cyclists finished a two-week ride from Land's End to John O'Groats (Lejog) to raise awareness of autism across the country and included Andrew Antrobus, Jason McGowan, Gila Freudenthal and Ian McClelland.

The Spectrum team at the John O'Groats fingerpost. From left, Andrew Antrobus, Jason McGowan, Gila Freudenthal and Ian McClelland. Picture: DGS
The Spectrum team at the John O'Groats fingerpost. From left, Andrew Antrobus, Jason McGowan, Gila Freudenthal and Ian McClelland. Picture: DGS

Andrew, fleet manager and charity cycle participant, said he had a slight injury at Preston but "soldiered on" as best as he could. "I've only been cycling for three months so I found it extremely tough. My guru Jason McGowan gave us a lot of training prior to this."

He added that he "relishes a challenge" and decided to take part in the event to help raise funds and the awareness of autism within society and "the excellent work which Spectrum has done over the past 40 years".

"This is also to give praise for the fantastic work by our caring staff out in the field who have in turn demonstrated the great achievements of our service users over the years.”

The event was not just limited to the four team members braving the journey though, and the entire Spectrum team got involved throughout the two weeks with both the homes and HQ participating in virtual segments of the route via static bikes to show their support.

The Spectrum team at John O'Groats' official start and end point. Picture: DGS
The Spectrum team at John O'Groats' official start and end point. Picture: DGS

Travelling north on the Lejog trip the team passed through Launceston, Tiverton, Wells, Hereford, Telford, Wigan, Kendal, Carlisle, Peebles, Perth, Ballater, Inverness, and Lairg – connecting with communities in each location to "spread the word and showcase Spectrum’s achievements across the country".

Gila, marketing and communications manager and charity cycle participant, came up with the Lejog idea despite not having ridden a bike since her childhood: “I’m taking part in this challenge to help raise awareness of all the great work that our carers have done and are doing. It is our mission to raise awareness for autism and encourage each service user to be active member of their community, leading fulfilled lives and playing valued social roles.”

Jason, maintenance manager and charity cycle participant comments: "I’ve cycled and raced bikes all my life. I got them out on the bikes and trained them up. Andy dropped two-and-a-half stone. Gila and Andy took to it really well."

The Spectrum team at John O'Groats with, from left, Andrew Antrobus, Jason McGowan, Gila Freudenthal and Ian McClelland. Picture: DGS
The Spectrum team at John O'Groats with, from left, Andrew Antrobus, Jason McGowan, Gila Freudenthal and Ian McClelland. Picture: DGS

Ian said he was a substitute member due to a colleague pulling out just two weeks before the event started.

Robin Gunson acted as driver of the support vehicle and is head of developments at Spectrum. "I've a broad range of experience of supporting families and individuals for 40 years. There's a much better understanding of autism compared to the past but it's an ongoing journey for lots and lots of families."

The cycle team say they have all seen the challenges faced by the care sector throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and say they were "determined to honour the amazing work being undertaken every day".

If you would like to hear more about the cycle and place a donation you can do so here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/spectrumteamlejog2022


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