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Gareth Thomas' Sport Relief Tour de Trophy welcomed in Shropshire

By Sue Austin | Wem | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Welsh rugby star and Ironman Gareth Thomas braved strong winds and driving rain when he biked the length of Shropshire as part of his Tour de Trophy ride for Sport Relief.

Gareth Thomas leaves the Castle Hotel in Wem

The former full back, who has become a major campaigner for better mental health and for breaking the stigma of HIV, is cycling more than 100 miles each day from Cardiff to Aberdeen to take the Sports Personality of the Year trophy to the live awards show on Sunday.

He spent Monday night in Ludlow before biking through Shrewsbury to Wem and onto Warrington on Tuesday.

During his lunch break at the Castle Hotel in Wem, Gareth, known by his nickname Alfie, talked to young people who have been helped by the Wyre Forest Nightstop charity and to volunteers, some who live on the south Shropshire border.

Gareth Thomas and Courtney Gregg

Courtney Gregg, 23, spoke to Gareth and the other cyclists helping him on his quattrocycle legs of the journey.

Courtney explained how the charity gave her a place to stay in a family home for a few days when she hit rock bottom.

She and other young people that had been helped now fundraise, volunteer and mentor others.

"To pick themselves up like these young people have takes a lot of guts, determination. They are empowering and when I am on the bike ride and and I am cold and tired, they are the ones that keep me going and I know I am going to get to Aberdeen.

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Talking to the Wyre Forest nightstop members

"Charities that are being helped by Sport Relief are out there day after day saving lives but also giving people a life they deserve.

"I hope that by doing the Tour de Trophy I can spark of conversations, about homeless people, about mental health, about the charities that are being helped.

"Maybe one person at rock bottom will see what we are doing and reach out to one of these organisations because of it."

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Gareth Thomas leaves the Castle Hotel in Wem

He said he also wanted to continue to break stigmas over sexuality and HIV.

"People think if you have HIV you are ill, I used to think that myself. I want to show that that is not the case and doing the Ironman Wales and Tour do Trophy is proving that."

He admitted that cycling 100 miles a day, day after day was tough.

"I am not sore so much as numb, everything is numb," he said.

Splitting the distance between his own road bike and the four person quattrocycle he said both were very different machines.

"The bike is tough on your own but that quattrocycle is such a heavy machine it takes some moving."

He was joined on the Shropshire leg by Love Island's Montana Rose, Blue Peter presenter Richie Driss and sports broadcaster Rachel Stringer.

You can follow Gareth's journey at bbc.co.uk/events/ej64mb/live/cvb5d4.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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