Police air crew takes on epic Base 2 Base fundraising challenge

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Three Tactical Flight Officers from the National Police Air Service’s North West region are taking on an epic 800-mile Base 2 Base cycle challenge to raise urgent funds for former NPAS and Cheshire Constabulary colleague PC Gareth James.

On Saturday 2 September 2023, PC Phil Perkins, PC Mike Dutton and PC Anna Reid, from NPAS’s Barton base, in Manchester, are embarking on the challenging nine-day cycle, calling in at every NPAS base across England and Wales.

Map of England and Wales showing cycle route from Newcastle to Saint Athan

Accompanied by Merseyside Police officer Liam Phillips in the support vehicle, they are raising urgent funds for colleague Gareth’s cancer treatment.

Gareth was working as a Tactical Flight Officer at NPAS Hawarden when he was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer. Despite a dire prognosis, Gareth has beaten the odds so far and the cancer is stable.

But to have any hope of a cure, Gareth is forced to look abroad to obtain the necessary medical intervention. With insufficient resources available through the NHS, he is raising the vital funds himself and has so far achieved £23,000 of his £40,000 target.

Local organisations and police groups have pledged to support the event, sponsoring the support vehicle, supplies and some accommodation, and making donations to Gareth’s fundraising target.

NPAS Newcastle will launch the ride on Saturday 2 September 2023 with the first leg ending 115 miles later in West Yorkshire at NPAS Carr Gate.

From there, they will head across the Pennines, calling in at NPAS Barton before finishing the day, 105 miles later, at NPAS Hawarden.

The next leg takes the team from Hawarden to NPAS Birmingham and another 101 miles.

Then it’s 104 miles to NPAS Husbands Bosworth before finally arriving at NPAS Benson.

The next day sees the riders head off to NPAS London and NPAS North Weald - a shorter cycle of just 70 miles.

Before an early van drive to Redhill, avoiding a cycle through central London, to kick off the next leg – NPAS Redhill to NPAS Bournemouth.

Staying on the south coast, the cyclists continue from Bournemouth to NPAS Exeter.

Then it’s 91 miles from Exeter to NPAS Almondsbury before the last 55 miles from Almondsbury to NPAS St Athan – the finishing post.

As the challenge draws closer, Phil said the hills were the biggest dread but if their plight raised plenty for Gareth, it would be worth it.

“Gareth has been a friend and colleague for many years. Knowing what he has been through is more than enough motivation to do what we can to help him raise money,” said Phil.

“Whilst I have done the odd 100-mile in a day charity cycle ride, I have never done anything on this scale. We have all been training really hard, particularly endurance training, and, when the weather’s bad, on our indoor trainers.

“The hills bring about the biggest dread. There’s quite a bit of elevation, and a particularly big hit on the section between Wakefield and Manchester, across the Pennines.

“What am I most looking forward to? Finishing it. Honestly, I am looking forward to it all with a sense of excitement and dread. It is going to be a real challenge to the legs. But we are looking forward to getting to the end and seeing the result. Getting a decent amount of money to help Gareth is all we want to achieve.”

You can follow Phil, Mike and Anna’s journey via their Twitter/X and Facebook pages.