by Rebecca Hannant
Two fundraising walking challenges either side of the Atlantic have been held in memory of avid Hedon biker Richard Holden.
In 2021, Richard was diagnosed with three tumours and underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
While undergoing the treatment, he contracted an infection that halted his recovery, but it allowed him the time to find his Christian faith.
As Richard waited for an operation, he rode around Holderness visiting all 39 churches in the region, raising awareness about male cancers as well as the often deteriorating conditions of the churches.
In 2022, before a second operation to remove a tumour, Richard rode to 122 churches in East Yorkshire over 12 weeks, raising £2,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust in the process.
After Richard died, aged 62, in June, his wife Julie, along with family members and friends, vowed to carry on his fundraising efforts for the Teenage Cancer Trust and planned two walks in his memory.
The first walk, closer to home, on Sunday, September 10, involved Julie, her deaf dog Pickle, and her two friends Katie Pick and Clare Smith, who went on a 12.6-mile trek from Patrington’s St Patrick’s Church to St Augustine’s Church in Hedon.
On the way they visited churches at Winestead, Ottringham and Keyingham, and Julie documented the journey on her Facebook page The Dark Pen, providing readers with facts about each church.
As she finished her challenge, her sister Kay and nephew Johnny, who live in Arizona, set out on a 10-mile hike from the Gretchen Warren Chapel in the Verde Valley to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and back.
Julie said: “We did this to honour Richard’s wish to raise money to support young people with cancer, like the ones he met on his own cancer journey.
“Now he is not around I am dealing with a huge hole in my life. Grief makes you not want to do anything. Focusing on this challenge
helps. We all deal with loss in different ways, but I believe it’s about getting a balance between having time to think and remember and doing something meaningful to you.
“I want to continue the fundraising. Cancer is devastating no matter how old you are, but many young people are already going through a lot and need specialised support within the services.
“We had such a lot of support and encouragement with these walks and are very grateful. We raised another £788, which is fantastic. We want to thank everyone who donated.
“It’s going to an excellent cause. Hedon Church set up a monthly motorcycle meet over the summer in memory of Richard, and we set up the walks to coincide with the last one of the year.
“We were met by a representative from Teenage Cancer Trust, Louise Miles, who was lovely and told us that the money raised has paid for hundreds of hours of support, which I know would have moved Richard.”
In a bid to raise more awareness, Julie has released a free e-book called Towers and Spires which retells the story of her and Richard’s visits to churches in the area. To read the e-book, visit thedarkpen.com/the-motorcycle-church-challenge.
Julie and members of her family are planning another dual-continent walk near Christmas.
To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/richard-william-holden.