31 July, 2015

Kevin reaches the peak of his career

Kevin Aird, a manager based at Three Spires Shopping Centre in Lichfield, helped raise £170,000 after biking 1,000 miles and climbing the five highest mountains of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales in just seven days.

The 31-year-old from Quinton took on the challenge as a group of 16 dedicated employees and friends, dubbed the Peaky Bikers, and believes it is the first time anybody has completed the route in such a way.

The £170,000-plus they have raised will be split between Prostate Cancer UK and the Marie Keating Foundation, a cancer awareness and education charity based in Ireland. The two charities were chosen because Kevin and the rest of his Peaky Bikers team had personal experience of the disease.

Kevin said: “I lost my grandparents to cancer but I also worked alongside a fellow M&S manager who had prostate cancer and quite an aggressive strain. His was a success story and he was back at work within weeks. It is quite close to my heart and shows that the fundraising we have done to help these charities and their research can really help people like him.

"We’ve done various charity events through M&S over the years and this was just an idea that came from us trying to do something a little bit more extreme – a bit mad even. It was always going to be a question as to whether we would manage it or not, and on the sixth day there was a point at which it seemed we weren’t going to make it, but we did in the end.”

Although many people tackle the three peaks of the UK, and also the five peaks Kevin and his team climbed, they usually have transport between the mountains provided, rather than cycle from one mountain to another.

The group averaged 137 miles of cycling every day - considerably more than the Tour de France bikers, who tackle 99 miles each day of their challenge.

“We don’t think anyone has previously cycled between all of the peaks, let alone tried to do the lot in seven days,” Kevin added. “But we wanted something that would really push the boundaries of what we could physically do.”

The 16-strong Peaky Bikers, took their challenge with gusto – training hard and gathering impressive amounts of sponsorship along the way. More donations are still coming in, and Kevin believes the pain and exhaustion the team endured was worth every minute.

He said: “Everyone had their low points, when they were so tired or just having a bad moment but we all pulled together and thankfully we did it.

“On day six we were nearly beaten, but we rallied and in the end we did our fastest mountain and best cycling that day. Everybody clubbed together, the adrenaline kicked in, and we were up and down Scafell Pike in record time.”

A keen cyclist, Kevin was confident during the biking parts of the challenge, but found the hill climbing a whole new experience.

The father-of-three said: “I had never hiked up a mountain - for me that was well out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed pushing myself.
“There were some amazing moments too, like watching the sunrise on Ben Nevis, that we will never experience again.”

Having worked at M&S since leaving school, Kevin was based in Birmingham before moving to become food manager at M&S’ branch in Three Spires Shopping Centre, Lichfield, in May.
The store backed his fundraising efforts by holding a special day to help. Kevin said: “The staff and all the customers really supported me. I spent a day on a static bike at the front of the shop and we had loads of donations. We raised £1,000 through that and for a store our size that’s brilliant.”

Three Spires Shopping Centre manager Lisa Prokopiou said: “Kevin and his fellow Peaky Bikers are to be congratulated on raising such a huge amount for these two excellent charities.
“Three Spires shoppers were very generous when Kevin held his in-store fund-raising event, and they have continued to support him. So many of us know somebody with cancer - it’s estimated that one in two people will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.”

Kevin is now planning more charity challenges in the coming months.

“Within a couple of days of finishing it there was already talk of what we might be doing next year and we’re all up for it. We hadn’t really met before, and then really gelled during this trip because we were all doing it with the same goal in mind so there’ll definitely be something else on the cards,” he added.

To make a donation to support the challenge visit justgiving.com/teams/fivepeaksbybikeandhike

Source: this article originally appeared on the Birmingham Mail

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