Lincolnshire local Andy French sadly passed away in July 2017 from a rare condition called sporadic CJD, aged 52. Though he was born in Dartford, he moved to Caistor almost 14 years ago. This is the inspiration that led his family to organise a heartfelt charity bike ride, in Andy’s honour, from Kent to Caistor.
On the 31st May, 21 people set off from The Bull Pub, Horton Kirby, Kent to cycle 230 miles over three days. The first day saw the group travel over 90 miles, stopping in Cambridge, then cycle over 70 miles the next day, stopping in Sleaford, before doing the last 66 miles to arrive in Caistor on Saturday 2nd June.
Most of them had not picked up a bike since childhood but were determined to complete the epic task ahead of them.
The riders included Andy’s brother-in-law, Danny Goldsbrough, who is landlord at The Bull; Andy’s sister-in-law, Jayne Goldsbrough; Andy’s niece, Jenna Rickner; five friends from the Caistor and Market Rasen area (three of whom are managers for Caistor Tennyson Tigers junior football teams, which Andy helped run before he was ill); and 13 locals from The Bull.
Andy’s illness, CJD, is a rare degenerative brain disorder and is always fatal. It has been described as dementia on speed. Due to its rarity, it is extremely hard to get a correct diagnosis, as was the case with Andy. His family sadly saw him deteriorate rapidly with no explanation – a truly heartbreaking situation, especially after learning that there is a nasal test that can identify CJD, which would have meant him not having to endure all the tests he did.
There is now a drug that has been the pipeline for around six years, PRN100, which has proof of working but faced challenges ahead before it could be used for human trials. The Cure CJD campaign was launched in 2016 by a group of volunteers who had been personally affected by CJD to raise funds solely for the progression of this drug. To date, the amount raised stands at over £213,000. This has enabled the drug to move forward significantly.
Andy’s family, after raising £5,000 for St. Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby as a thank you for taking care of Andy in his final weeks, wanted to focus on raising money for something that could hopefully make a difference to the next unsuspecting victims of this most horrid disease.
They found Cure CJD and chose it given it’s potential to not cure the disease, but stop it’s progression. Since October 2017, the family have helped raise over £25,000 for the Cure CJD Campaign. The bike ride alone raised over £12,000 of this, and is still rising. Due to the seriousness of the condition and the trouble doctors have in diagnosing the condition, donations like these are vital in the battle for helping treat CJD.