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30 September 2011, 12:01
Gary Nelson embarks on 650 mile bike ride from Southend in Scotland to Southend in Essex on Friday to raise money for Havens Hospices.
The former Southend United player is leading a line-up of nine fundraising cyclists.
Garry Nelson is hoping his team will raise £20,000 for Havens Hospices as they cycle from Southend in Mull of Kintyre, Scotland to the shores of Southend seafront, in Essex, in October.
Garry, aged 50, of Benfleet, will be joined by his 24-year-old-son Chris and his partner Tracy Reschwamm and a team of friends friends Nick and Alison Robins, aged 44 and 48, Neil Robins, 50, Dan Garside, 34, Andy Metcalf, 51, Clive Shiret, 54, and Southend-based Mike Whistler, 50, who is raising money for the RNLI.
Garry's mum Elsie, was cared for by Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff after finding out she had lung cancer in 2005.
Elsie's illness progressed quickly and she died at the hospice on Christmas Day, aged 68, six weeks after being diagnosed.
Garry said: "Although I'd driven past Fair Havens many times I still didn't know what to expect. It was a different atmosphere, almost like an exclusive service.
"The patient and their comfort is of the utmost importance to the staff there. Mum got the attention she deserved and despite the dire situation, we felt positive that her needs were being taken care of.
The team will be flying to Glasgow on Friday, September 30 ready to start the challenge the following morning.
The riders are aiming to cover 650 miles in eight days.
All proceeds will be split equally between Havens Hospices and the Willow Foundation, the national charity founded by Arsenal legend Bob Wilson OBE, which provides special days out for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds.