"That was extremely challenging and tiring and by the evening of the first day we were ready for some food and sleep; even if it was on the bumpy floor of a camp site!”"
Exhausted but elated, Typhoon Display Pilot, Flt Lt Jim Peterson, and his team of five incredible cyclists completed the gruelling 180 mile in 36 hours cycle challenge. The challenge, supported by Asali, saw the team pedal from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire to St Paul’s Eye Unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
The cycle challenge was organised by Jim to raise money for the medical team that saved his sight 18 years ago after a freak accident resulted in a shard of glass from a broken bottle flying into Jim’s left eye. Jim was admitted into the internationally renowned St Paul’s Eye Unit, where consultant eye surgeon, Mark Batterbury, fought to save Jim’s sight and RAF career.
Jim said: “I have never forgotten the tremendous care I received from the medical teams in St Paul’s Eye Unit and have long wanted to repay the skill required to save my sight.
“Being the Typhoon display pilot for 2018 presented me with the first opportunity of my military career to be able to prepare, train and complete a challenge to support St Paul’s -albeit during my only weekend off over a busy summer display schedule.
“At the start of the ride across the relatively flats roads of Lincolnshire, the weather was great and we made good distance. However, typical of the British weather, the rain and head winds came as we arrived at the steep climbs in the Peak District. That was extremely challenging and tiring and by the evening of the first day we were ready for some food and sleep; even if it was on the bumpy floor of a camp site!”
Although sore and a bit stiff, Jim and the team soon got into their stride and were joined on the last 25 miles by the St Paul’s Eye Unit surgeon who saved is sight in 2000, Mr Mark Batterbury. Jim and the team reached the St Paul’s Eye Unit within the 36 hour target to a hero’s welcome and celebrations from St Paul’s staff. Together, the cyclists raised nearly £3,800 for research to develop new pioneering treatments to prevent sight loss.
"I can’t thank my fellow cyclists enough for agreeing to take part and remaining positive - even during the difficult Peak District section"
Jim continued: “I can’t thank my fellow cyclists enough for agreeing to take part and remaining positive - even during the difficult Peak District section – the many generous donors who made this all worthwhile and to Asali for sponsoring us. The interest the challenge attracted not only raised vital funds for St Paul’s, but through the radio and newspaper interviews we gave I hope it generated awareness of the importance of our eyes and what a first-class job medical teams like St Paul’s eye Unit do up and down the country”
Consultant eye surgeon, Mark Batterbury said: “On behalf of everyone at St Paul’s, I am extremely grateful to Jim and the team for taking time out of their busy schedule to support us in this way. The generous support from people like Jim means we are able to turn ideas of how to prevent people losing their sight into reality and without this support we just wouldn’t be able to carry out this vitally important research.
“It was a real pleasure to meet Jim again after all these years and discover how well he has done in his RAF career.”
You can still support Jim and the team by clicking this link to his Just Giving page.