Orpington fundraiser takes on his 25th consecutive London to Brighton Bike Ride in aid of British Heart Foundation

PUBLISHED: 10:07 10 June 2019

Mark with his daughter Louise get ready for his retirement ride after 25 years. Picture: Mark Martin

Mark with his daughter Louise get ready for his retirement ride after 25 years. Picture: Mark Martin


He’s hanging up his biking helmet after 25 years of fundraising, pulling in an astonishing £30,000.

Now Mark Martin, from Orpington, will be pedalling through life at a different pace.

The cash, for the British Heart Foundation, was from taking part in its popular London to Brighton Bike Ride.

For a quarter of a century, Mark has been at the start line determined to raise yet more money using the same bike every year.

The 63-year-old is now doing it one last time before retiring from the gruelling ride.

The money goes towards the charity's life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases including heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia.

Mark recalls reluctantly signing up for his first ride back in 1995.

He said; "My brother and both my sisters were involved in the ride in the early 1990s and I was just a spectator and they persuaded me to sign up.

"I didn't have a bike and hadn't cycled much before so I popped into a second-hand shop and picked up a steel-frame Raleigh road bike for £30.

"After that first ride I had such a fantastic sense of achievement that I promised myself I would do the ride every year for the next 25 years."

Mark's Raleigh has served him well and has so far taken him nearly 1,300 miles of the London to Brighton course over the past 24 years.

Some rides have stuck in his memory more than others.

One which was particularly significant for Mark was in 2014, the year of his 20th ride.

His boss, Bernie Marsh, who had always generously sponsored Mark, died of a heart attack aged 60 several months prior to the event. Each year since his death, Mark has ridden in Bernie's memory.

Mark said: "The BHF is such a great cause. We all know someone who has been affected by heart and circulatory diseases and it makes me happy to look back and know I have contributed something to help people.

"The amazing thing for me is that I've been fit on that day every year for 25 years - somehow I've managed to do it. I'm not a keen cyclist; more than once I've gone the whole year without getting on the bike in between London to Brighton rides.

"This year will be a special year for me, not only will I have hit the milestone I set myself in 1995 but my daughters Louise and Jenny will be there to cross the line with me. We will meet up with my lovely wife Moya, who has supported me all these years and my other daughter Katie, so it will be a family celebration at the seaside."

So now for the final time, on June 16, Mark and around 16,000 other riders will set off from Clapham Common and begin the 54-mile challenge which will finish on the Brighton seafront.

Last year, the London to Brighton Bike Ride raised £3million which will go towards helping to better understand how to prevent, diagnose and treat heart and circulatory diseases and beat heartbreak forever.

Roshan Teeluck, head of events at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Without the dedication and commitment of people like Mark, we wouldn't be able to fund research that has broken new ground, revolutionised treatments and improved the lives of millions of people in the UK. We're extremely proud of his achievements and grateful for his generosity and support.

"Some 7.4 million people in the UK are living with heart and circulatory diseases, for which we receive no Government funding."

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