A DOCTOR from Sheffield pedalled the length of the country to raise funds for a health charity which is struggling for survival.
Will Carlile, a GP at the Pitsmoor Surgery on Burngreave Road, cycled nearly 1,500 miles to raise money for Sage Greenfingers – an organisation which provides gardening therapy for people with disabilities.
Dr Carlile helped to set up the charity in Burngreave more than a decade ago to help people who were being missed by the NHS system.
Last year Sage Greenfingers, which helps people with mental health problems and other disabilities at its allotment, was forced to stop offering free sessions when its council funding was cut.
It is struggling on, but is being forced to charge £40 a session, which rules out many of the people it used to help.
Dr Carlile said: “Sage grew out of work we did looking at the mental health needs of a population that had been missed by standard NHS services.
“We found lots of people had nothing to do - because of their illness they weren’t working, and they found it hard to engage in anything else.
“Gardening gave them a way to engage in a meaningful way.
“It is a fantastic project – it gives meaning to people who thought there was nothing worth living for.”
Sage Greenfingers is now relying on charitable donations to provide occasional sessions.
Dr Carlile raised £1,500 in his epic three-week journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats – made more arduous by the circuitous route he took, and some horrendous weather.
The 56-year-old, who has worked at Pitsmoor surgery for 25 years, said: “It was fantastic trip but I took a bit of a bizarre route.
“I came up through Sheffield and then went across to the Scottish Western Isles, back over the Applecross crossing and up to Cape Ross.
“It was about 1,460 miles and I was cycling every day. The normal route is about 900 miles.”
He added: “There were only three days where I didn’t have to wear all my waterproof gear. It was absolutely fantastic but I wouldn’t have chosen the wettest June on record to do it in!”
n To donate visit www.charitygiving.co.uk/willcarlile