Pete Hinchliffe

I would like to tell you about my brother Pete.

Pete was 33 when he died on the 11th of September 2010. Pete died at the roadside after getting off his bike, presumably as he felt unwell. A couple of bystanders started CPR and called for an Ambulance. His good friend Danny, who he was going to meet for a bike ride, rode past and witnessed the scene unfolding. He phoned my parents and they rushed to the hospital, but unfortunately Pete had died.

Pete died doing what he loved. He had been a semi-professional road cyclist competing locally as well as at a National level and had spent time in Belgium cycling. He had a blackout whilst out cycling in the May before he died and had been to see a cardiologist but had been told everything was fine, he could still ride his bike and was continuing to work as a fitness instructor. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

I was running a marathon in Bordeaux, France the day Pete died. It was about 28 degrees and I found it really hard going – at one point almost contemplating pulling out which is unlike me. I kept thinking if Pete could see me he’d be saying “just keep going” – in fact I nearly rang him for some words of encouragement.

At the finish I rang my Mum to tell her about my run and thought she sounded a bit odd, but didn’t really think too much about it. The following day my older brother, Rob, rang me and asked me about how I’d found the marathon. I thought it was odd as I was in France (phone bill costs and all that) and kept thinking “what are you going to tell me?”. He then said “Sarah I’ve got something really terrible to tell you, Pete’s died”.

I went completely apart and called him a liar! I thought he was going to tell me my Dad had been knocked off his bike or Mum had been taken ill. But never that.

Pete was always so alive. He was the life and soul of the party and was loved and liked by many – something I am only really discovering since his death. His funeral was a really good day – which probably sounds weird. His cycling friends came on their bikes and in their Lycra which made it really colourful. The crematorium was packed and people had to stand outside. It gave us all such strength and pride.

Since then, myself and Rob have been screened. I’ve run the London Marathon in the CRY heart costume and raised money for CRY – a truly emotional day.

Rob and my parents have set up with CRY the Pete Hinchliffe Travel Award for medics to access. There’s been the Pete Hinchliffe Memorial Ride, which is now an annual event (every November: http://nmrrl.org.uk/pete_hinchliffe.html) organised by his old cycling club – Dinnington RC and also the Pete Hinchliffe Trophy, which is given to the winner of the ‘Out of the Saddle’ bike race which will be put on every year (with thanks to the Downing Brothers).

Someone said to me that once the funeral was over life moves on; but they were wrong. The funeral was only the beginning.

Pete always said as a child, that there was no point living past 30 as you get old and wrinkly! We used to laugh then and I guess we still laugh now at that. We have so many good memories of Pete (don’t get me wrong he wasn’t a saint!). I miss him every single day and it feels odd not to have my little brother to look out for and him for me. The strength which we all take is that Pete’s name and memory is continuing to live on. I am determined that my 4 month old niece, Kathrine, knows about her Uncle Pete too.

I would like to thank CRY for their support and guidance.

Sarah Hinchliffe