Walcott backs Newbury cyclists

Arsenal and England soccer star Theo Walcott, has given his support to Team Buzz, a group of Newbury cyclists who are currently one gruelling charity mission.

Team Buzz and cycling more than 850 miles from Cherbourg to Montpellier in France in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), the organisation which raises awareness of heart defects in young people as well as making cardiac checks mandatory for young sports men and women.

Team Buzz was inspired by Newbury man Mark Dee-Shapland, 25, who lost his sister Claire a year ago to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, the condition that CRY works tirelessly to publicise.

Since her death last August her family has supported CRY in its campaign to make heart scans mandatory in young people – especially those involved in sport.

Team Buzz comprises Mark Dee-Shapland, Keith Mulhern, a university friend, Nick Branch, a former pupil at St Bartholomew's School and their driver Jonny Rudd.

Their trip will take two weeks and they are hoping to raise £5,000.

Before they left, they met England squad member Walcott, who is now living with his family near London.

Walcott's own experience of cardiac scans in young people stems fro his time at Southampton FC when a routine scan on his team-mate Adam Lallana revealed an irregular heart beat.

Following a successful operation, Adam was able to return to playing first-class football.

Mark's father, Nick Dee-Shapland, has sponsored the cycle ride with a van provided by his Newbury-based cleaning company, ServiceMaster Clean.

Halfords are also backing the cyclists, having serviced all the bikes and providing technical support.

Nick Dee-Shapland said: "Mark wanted to do something to promote CRY as it was the anniversary of Claire's death.

"We've already raised £3,000 through donations, including one from BBC sports presenter and CRY patron John Inverdale who ha also supported Buzz.

"We are deeply grateful to John and to Theo for squeezing time to help launch the ride.

"We were shocked when we discovered that eight young people die every week from sudden death syndrome, so the cycle ride is really to raise awareness of this and of CRY's work. Any funds we raise in the process will be a bonus.

"People can read more about the cycle ride on our specially created website

http://www.teambuzztourdefrance.blogspot.com where they will find out how to make a donation if they want to.

"Alternatively they can contact me on 01635 38100."