Wilson and Porterfield get on their bikes for charity
Alistair Bushe (News Letter)
Ireland international Gary Wilson and his best friend William Porterfield have begun preparations for a gruelling bike ride around Ireland later this year.
Gary (26), who lost his mum Iris to lung cancer earlier this year, is using the 380-mile challenge over five days to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
He enlisted the help of best friend Porterfield (27) and they will set off in October, starting from Mardyke cricket ground in Cork and finishing at Stormont.
On the face of it, you might think it shouldn’t amount to too stiff a challenge for two fighting fit young international cricketers.
However, Gary readily admits that both he and Porterfield are absolute novices when it comes to cycling. “We are doing a bike ride from Cork to Belfast, with stops in Kilkenny, Malahide, Armagh and Derry along the way. We are going to try and do it in five days. In fact we are going to do it in five days, we don’t have an option, because we are having a dinner at Stormont on the last night,” said Gary.
“It could be interesting because we are not keen cyclists exactly. I think the last time I was on a bike I was 10 or 11. I don’t even think William knows how to ride a bike. He says he can’t ride the length of himself!”
Gary and William have already received much support, with welivecricket.com sponsoring the Big Bike Ride and taking on the project management. The company should have two state of the art bicycles secured for the next week.
“We are lucky we have a sponsored involved. welovecicket have decided to project manage it for us and pay for everything. They are going to get a couple of bikes sorted for us in the next week or so and we are going to get on the road and see what we can do. “
It has been a hugely difficult time for Gary. Iris was diagnosed in October 2010, but she fought back courageously and a year later was well enough to see Gary marry wife Jennifer. However, in April she passed away.
Gary also had to cope with the shattering sudden death of Surrey colleague Tom Maynard in the last week. The young England Lions batsman, earmarked as a full international of the future, died after being struck by a London Underground train in the early hours of last Monday morning.
Wilson said: “Obviously with losing my mum in April, Cancer Research is a charity that ‘s very close to my heart. The first thing I thought was to do this bike ride. Chris Adams (the Surey manager) did one last year for leukemia. He rode to 18 first-class counties and I got the idea for the ride from there. I just gave William a ring and said would you mind helping me with something, and he was straight on to it, no problem.
“They say bad things happen in threes so hopefully that’s the end of it now. I lost my mum and granddad in the space of a week and now Tom this week.”
Gary admits everyone at The Oval has been shattered by Maynard’s death. The club has been beset by tragedy with players Graham Kersey and Ben Hollioke also dying suddenly. “Tom is such a tragedy because above all else he was such a nice guy. The club are going to find it very hard to get back on their feet but I suppose there’s no choice. You have to move on somehow. The guys had a game on Friday night and I really wish I could have been there but with things going on here, I couldn’t be there. I was thinking of them all night.
“It’s so much for a club to deal with in the space of 15 years. It’s a good club, the players are very close, we are close to the management. Hopefully we will get past this eventually.”
To donate to Gary and William’s Big Bike Ride go to www.justgiving.com/gary-wilson14 or text to 70070 with the code CRIC50.