A FORMER teacher has hit the roads of the continent as he cycles to Sunderland’s twin city for charity.
Ev Colgin was inspired to get on his bike and raise money for Grace House Hospice after last year’s 60th anniversary of the twinning of Sunderland with French town Saint-Nazaire.
Mr Colgin, who lives in Hastings Hill, is using his hybrid bike for what he has dubbed the “Twin City Bike Ride” through western France.
The 60-year-old, who taught English and Modern Foreign Langauges at schools in Sunderland and Durham, said: “I turned 60 last year and while I knew we had the twinning arrangements with Saint-Nazaire, I had never realised that it was 60 years old.
“These two 60th anniversaries got me thinking and I thought I’d get on my bike, help promote the link to Saint-Nazaire with a visit, and raise some money for a good cause.
“I know that over the years there’s been a lot exchange work done with schools and students but I didn’t realise how many business and cultural links there are.
“The exchange work all helps give young and old a broader outlook on life by meeting and knowing more about the wider and outside world.
“I’m being supported by cycling friends, including my old pal Tony, who lives in Seaburn, and Barry, from Newcastle.”
Mr Colgin will be completing the ride known as the Loire à vélo, from Orleans to Saint-Nazaire, doing about 50 miles a day.
He added: “I’ve cycled in France before, Normandy to Paris, and I’ve found out now that the local Saint-Nazaire cycling club – Vélo Club Nazairien – is going to meet us and escort us into town for the last 55km.”
He set off for France on Saturday and expects to arrive in Saint-Nazaire by Friday.
The former teacher has run more than 20 marathons and helped raise money for various charities during his life.
He added: “They say a lot of charity begins at home and as I was born in Southwick, and Grace House is in Southwick, I’m very happy to help raise funds for such a worthy cause.”
Last year, as part of the 60th anniversary of the twinning with Saint-Nazaire, its long-standing mayor, Monsieur Joël Batteux, was awarded the Freedom of Sunderland. Monsieur Batteux had participated in one of the very first school exchange visits to Sunderland as a teenager in the late 1950s, spending a week at Bede School.
He was awarded the freedom in recognition of his long-standing commitment to the town twinning relationship between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire throughout his time as mayor and for his significant work with British veterans.
To sponsor Mr Colgin go to www.justgiving.co.uk/gracehouse (search for Twin City Bike Rides).