An Islandmagee man has raised over £5000 by cycling 1,200 miles across France in aid of a former jockey paralysed in a riding accident.
David Stanbridge, 22, recently returned home after spending a month cycling alone from Cherbourg to Nice.
The keen cyclist completed the challenge in honour of his close friend, former Templepatrick jockey Jonjo Bright, who was left paralysed after a serious fall from a horse while riding in the Tyrella point to point race in 2013.
The funds raised by David’s adventure will help to ensure that Jonjo can continue to live as normally and independently as possible.
Now back at work at Ballylumford Power Station, David says that the trip went “exceptionally well,” and allowed him to surpass his target of £5000.
He told The Times: “I was surprised at how smoothly it went. I cycled about 55 miles a day and the weather was fantastic.
“I cycled along a couple of canals on the West Coast near Toulouse which were well set up for cyclists with a lot of great paths where you don’t have to worry about traffic.”
Despite being alone during his trip, David says his spirits were kept up through regular contact with his friends back home over Facebook.
The locals were also friendly, although the language barrier sometimes proved a stumbling block.
“I was staying in a mixture of designated campsites, fields and quiet corners and everybody I met was nice,” David recalled.
“Then one day I was camping in a field and a woman appeared and started talking at a million miles an hour and I had no idea what she was saying.
“But when she realised that I was only staying for one night she wished me well and said “bonne journée.”
While David got used to living in a tent, his journey through the French Riviera also gave him a glimpse of the luxury enjoyed by some residents of France’s East Coast.
“I cycled to Monaco the day after the grand prix and it was very, very busy with luxury yachts and cars,” he explained.
“I then cycled through Cannes during the film festival, and there were a lot of big cars with blacked-out windows which you knew were carrying famous people.”
Upon his return home, David was given a surprise welcome home when his family, friends and Jonjo met him at Belfast International Airport.
He continued: “Jonjo and his parents said it was some achievement and they couldn’t thank me enough.
“The money I have raised will help with his independence and to fund his physiotherapy and equipment.
“It was the first time I have done anything like this in my life, but it was a great experience,” he concluded.
To donate to David’s efforts, visit the “Cycling for Jonjo Bright” page at www.fundrazr.com. The page will be available until the end of June.