As Portadown businessman Geoffrey Vogan recovered a heart attack in May 2012 he decided he wanted to make a gesture to help others who suffered the same fate in the future.
The Portadown Fireplaces owner is now fighting fit as demonstrated by the 150-mile cycle and he and a group of 26 Portadown cyclists completed at the weekend.
The group set off from Portadown on Friday, cycling 75 miles to Portrush.
After taking a well-earned rest on the Friday evening they did it all again on Saturday, in the process raising money for two worthy causes.
Geoffrey’s own brush with death inspired his choice of Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke while the cyclists also dug deep into their pockets and made personal donations to Willie’s Orphan Fund, raising more than £200 for the Coleraine based charity.
Geoffrey says the plan is to make the ‘Port to Port’ an annual event.
“We had 27 cyclists taking part. It all started from the Asda car park in Portadown, and Asda very kindly donated fruit and water for the journey.
“It is 145 miles there and back, so it was tough. There were a lot of cyclists from Derrykeevan Cycle Club and the lead vehicle was driven by Colette Vogan, who is the MD of Portadown Fireplaces.
“It’s quite dangerous when you have that many cyclists on the road at the same time so we also had a sweep van at the back, which was driven by Shane McGonigle.”
The group cycled up the left side of Lough, before reaching Portrush via Coleraine.
There was a barbecue and refreshments on the Friday night while Hilltop Carvans of Portrush generously provided the group with somewhere to stay for the night.
“We came back on the Saturday via the same route. It was certainly tough going, but talking to the group, I don’t think we were all that sore.”
“After my heart attack I wanted to put something back in, and Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke is a very worthy charity.”
The main recipients, Chest, Heart and Stroke will be presented with a major donation in the near future.
Thanks go to the event sponsors: Portadown Fireplaces, ASDA Coleraine and Portadown and Hilltop Caravans, Portrush.
Willie’s Orphan Fund came about as the result of one man’s reaction to the horrors of the 2004 Boxing Day Asian Tsunami and especially the effect it had on young people orphaned in Thailand.
You can get further details about Willie’s Orphan Fund activities by logging on to the Facebook page or by visiting the website www.williesorphanfund.com