The Tour de Force was the biggest fund raising event that the Trust had ever undertaken. 2006 represented 10 years since William was killed. The idea for the event was conceived in early 2005 and in June 2006 almost 100 riders tackled one or more stages of the world’s most fearsome cycle race, Le Tour de France. We wanted the event to be a fitting memorial for William; we wanted to raise some money for good causes and we wanted our riders to enjoy themselves and come home safely. We are happy to say that we achieved all our objectives.
The cycling, of course, was the focal point. Our odyssey covered all 20 stages of the 2006 Tour de France route, which amounted to 2,300 miles. It was quite gratifying hearing the professionals, who followed 2 weeks behind us, describing the route as unreasonably tough. We thought so too! In all 98 riders saddled up, doing anything from a single stage to all 20. We are really delighted to say that although we had a couple of nasty tumbles on the way around, no one was badly hurt or hospitalised overnight. The youngest riders included some of William’s nephews and nieces. The “old and the bold” included his parents Andrew and Sarah and one of his godfathers Brian Trafford.
All were welcomed and well cared for by Lucy Manningham-Buller who project managed the whole event magnificently from start to finish. Joe Mearns and his Greenrock team delivered the cycling side of things with help from Steve Young (Le Berger) who was on hand to aid riders from the early training rides in Surrey in the months leading up to the event, right through to the finish in Paris. Giles Dalrymple was a great foil for Lucy in the logistics department. He even managed to squeeze a couple of days of riding. Thank you to all of the team for helping us achieve so much.
Our journey began in Obernai and took in Germany, Luxembourg, Holland and Spain. The average stage length was over 100 miles, so although the riders enjoyed the scenery and the camaraderie of the “peleton” there was a price to be paid, usually in the form of sore knees and even sorer backsides. We had 2 days in the south where the temperature reached 110 degrees. At the other extreme we had 2 stages in the Pyrenees where it hailed at the top of the Cols. In between we cycled through some quintessential French countryside, as well as along the coasts, through forests, villages and towns concluding in grand style in Paris. It is an experience none of us will ever forget.
The event raised £340,000 for the trust. Our target at the outset was to break even. As our confidence grew we set a goal of £100,000. To have reached over triple that is simply overwhelming for us all. We have done great things for good causes with that money. Many of the projects you can see in the “successful applicants” section of the website have been beneficiaries of the generosity of the riders and those who supported them with sponsorship. We originally asked riders to raise a minimum of £1,000 in order to qualify to participate in the event. Few stopped raising money when they reached that threshold and the majority raised far more than that.
On behalf of the trustees, thank you for your support. We all miss William very much. We know that much of the generosity we have experienced is a way for people to express their solidarity with us as a family. We all appreciate the warmth and togetherness that engenders. It is truly a case of light coming out of darkness.