By Hollie Bone
A 97-year-old WWII veteran has helped his care home buddies cross the finish line of a 31 mile charity bike ride – despite not having been on a bicycle in nearly 80 years.
Five residents at Primrose Bank Residential Care Home in Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancs, proved age is just a number on Sunday [March 8] when they hopped on a static exercise bike to complete the cycle in aid of Sport Relief.
With a combined age of 561 it had been decades since the residents last took to two wheels, but the spritely bunch completed the task with ease – clocking up the distance in just less than seven hours.
For retired coal industry worker and WWII RAF veteran Bill Crompton, 97 – the oldest resident to get in the saddle – it was his first time on a bike since he was a teenager in 1940 as he crossed the finish line for the team.
Bill, who fought with the Lancaster Bombers for three years and was awarded an MBE for services to industry in WHEN, said: “It meant a great deal to be the one who got us over the finish line.
“When they asked me if I’d like to get involved I thought about the last time I was on a bike.
“I was probably 18 or 19, it was nearly 80 years ago when I worked in the coal industry.
“It was nice to feel like I can still help someone and I enjoyed it very much indeed.”
For fellow resident, retired mechanic, Jack Thompson, 95, it was his first time on a bike since WWII – when his father had purchased him a bicycle to get him to his apprenticeship job at a motor garage
Among the other residents-turned-cyclists were Lina Hinchcliffe, 91, Doris Gale, 94 and Bob Houldsworth, 84.
Event organiser Dan Fearon, 33, the home’s activities co-ordinator, said he felt put to shame by the residents who were ‘one on one off’ throughout the day to reach the target – with several staff and visitors getting involved in the action too.
The stunt has already raised £165 for Sport Relief, which fights poverty worldwide, and was made possible by local gym, Fortitude Fitness, who provided the static bike as well as team t-shirts for all those involved.
Dan said: “Bill was the oldest resident that got on the bike but one of the ladies that got involved had just celebrated her 91st on Thursday.
“It was unbelievable seeing what they could do after so many years off a bike.
“Bill sat down and his legs just started going like the clappers, he put me to shame.
“Just to see them happy to be doing some exercise and their real want to help a charity was really inspiring.
“Having talked to the residents I knew some of them hadn’t been on a bike for 60 or 70 years.
“Jack told me he hadn’t been on a bike since the War and even recalled that the bike his dad purchased was stolen three weeks after he got it, forcing him to walk 40 minutes to work every day.
“They absolutely blew us all away. We are lucky to have a great bunch of people living here with us.
“Some people as they get older just want to live in peace but this lot love to get involved and do something different
“To have the opportunity to get on a bike for the first time in decades, they jumped at the chance.
“A lot of them surprised themselves.”
To donate to the fundraising: go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/primrosebankresidentialhome?fbclid=IwAR1f0BHCnWYRxyJw2c-tAklquqFmEp68TUU2CDBYcTvdnI1FgkQXKVEiDmY