A retired farmer from Derbyshire is embarking on a nation-wide solo bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise awareness and funds for The Farming Community Network (FCN).
Retired dairy and sheep farmer Will Appleby, 67 – who describes himself as a ‘pensioner with knackered knees on a bike’ – took to cycling three years ago and has since biked the Lon Las Cymru trail (Cardiff to Holyhead) and the North Coast 500 route – a 560-mile ride around the North Coast of Scotland over some of the steepest roads in the UK.
Will’s latest excursion will start on 25th April and he hopes to complete it within three weeks, weather permitting. With him on his journey he’ll be carrying full camping gear weighing about 30 kilos, which is no mean feat.
Will said: “Farming is often a solitary and lonely occupation and I have had my share of dark days and before the onset of the Internet, there seemed no one to turn to for help or much needed support. Charities like The Farming Community Network may well offer a lifeline. particularly to the small farmers, some of whom who are now getting on in age.
“Unless the older farmer is supported and enabled to thrive, how on earth can we expect the youth of today to learn from their experience and take on this wonderful yet highly challenging life?”
Will left school at 15 and joined the army as a musician. He studied at the Royal School of Music at Kneller Hall and spent just under 10 years as a military musician.
At the age of 25 he returned to his farming background as a dairy and sheep farmer in Derbyshire, where he still lives today. He also ran a peripatetic teaching service in many schools in Derbyshire and Staffordshire and plays saxophone at weddings throughout the country.
Alex Phillimore, Head of Communications and Development at The Farming Community Network, said: “Will’s enthusiasm for cycling and his support for FCN is inspiring. His many adventures over the last few years have shown that there’s no age limit to when someone can don their cycling gear and set an ambitious goal that would have many shaking in their boots. People like Will really show the strength of community in farming, and by giving something back, he hopes to help to support other farmers through their own challenges. We thank everyone who supports FCN and wish Will luck on his journey.”
The JustGiving link to Will’s fundraiser is available here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/will-appleby