Soldier’s pedal power for Sunderland children’s hospice

Staff Sgt Dave Cook, centre, gets in some practice before his 24 hour cycle challenge in aid of Grace House Hospice, with the Mayor Coun Eileen Leask, and Capt Mark Taylor, right

Staff Sgt Dave Cook, centre, gets in some practice before his 24 hour cycle challenge in aid of Grace House Hospice, with the Mayor Coun Eileen Leask, and Capt Mark Taylor, right

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A CHARITY champ is turning to pedal power for his latest challenge.

David Cook has raised more than £5,500 for children’s hospice, Grace House, in a series of events in memory of his nephew, Lee, who died in 2003 at the age of 16 from cancer.

Lee Cook - Young achiever, recovering from brain tumour file pic 12 February 2002 old ref number 70348 Tony Colling

Lee Cook - Young achiever, recovering from brain tumour file pic 12 February 2002 old ref number 70348 Tony Colling

On Friday, November 30, the 49-year-old soldier hopes to add to his total by spending a full 24 hours on an exercise bike.

The staff sergeant and physical training instructor with the Royal Artillery in Newcastle is calling on people to support him.

The Grace House building in Southwick, Sunderland, is now complete, but fundraising to meet running costs is continuing.

Mr Cook, who has served in the Forces for 29 years, says Lee and other family members are the inspiration behind his charity work.

Since then, cancer has claimed the lives of two brothers and his dad, while his mum died of breast cancer in 1977 aged 43.

He said: “Our family has been devastated by cancer, and I do these events as the only way I know to try and give something back. When Lee was alive, there wasn’t anything like Grace House in the North East, but it can make a difference to thousands of other children’s lives.

“These events aren’t about me, it’s about the hospice and all the families it can help.

“Hopefully, people will get behind the bike ride and donate to a fantastic cause in these tough times.”

Mr Cook’s previous events have included doing the Great North Run in full Army gear with a 24lb pack on his back, and a swim the length of the English Channel.

His latest event was taking place in the South Shields Territorial Army base off Highfield Road, at noon today.

Mr Cook, who lives with partner, Lynn, and sons Jack, 18, and David, 13, in Harton, South Shields, but is originally from Town End Farm, Sunderland, added: “I’m very proud of my sons, and they help me through these challenges.

“I couldn’t do it without them or the rest of my family. We’ve been through a hard time. This is going to be a really tough one – perhaps the hardest yet.”

Grace House fundraiser Karen Maclennan said: “I would really like to thank David for his continued support of Grace House, and wish him luck on his forthcoming 24-hour static bike ride.

“All money raised will go towards the running costs, which include the recruitment of the specialist nursing and clinical teams in preparation for the arrival of our first children next year.”

To sponsor Mr Cook text cook63 and an amount to 70070 or visit www.justgiving.com/david-cook2.

For more information about Grace House, call 516 6302 or visit www.gracehouse.co.uk.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho