Pals get on their bikes to remember ‘one-off’ Ian

Memory: Friends of Ian Tonge who died last year, are setting off on a cycle ride from John O'Groats to Land's End in his memory. They are, from left, Sam and Josh Walmesley and Ciaron Roddy pictured with Ian's mum Anne and dad Brian
Memory: Friends of Ian Tonge who died last year, are setting off on a cycle ride from John O'Groats to Land's End in his memory. They are, from left, Sam and Josh Walmesley and Ciaron Roddy pictured with Ian's mum Anne and dad Brian
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Friends of a young dad who died from a rare form of cancer are taking on a mammoth charity bicycle ride to mark the first anniversary of his death.

On July 3, Josh Walmsley, his brother Sam and Ciaron Roddy will set off from John O’Groats, aiming to make Lands End in nine days. Robert Roocroft will be driving a support vehicle along the route with vital supplies and camping equipment.

Their aim is to raise awareness of and funds for The Lymphoma Association, after Ian Tong died of anaplastic large cell lymphoma. aged 31.

The sign and street lighting contractor from Bamber Bridge thought he had a virus before being diagnosed with cancer six weeks before his death on July 14. He married fiancee Gemma four hours before he died.

Josh, 32, a barber from Walton-le-Dale, said: “Before Ian got lymphoma I’d never heard of it, and he wanted us to make people more aware.

“That’s the main thing we’re hoping to do, as well as raise funds for a good cause.”

To prepare for their 960 mile challenge, the group have been cycling to and from work, clocking up around 50 miles a week. While on the journey, they will be cycling for up to 10 hours a day.

Josh added: Ian was a real character, a one-off. If he were alive he’d be up for doing it.

“When he was alive, me, Sam, him and some of the other lads used to go cycling every Monday night.

“It was something he loved to do and about a year before he died, he got a new bike, but only got ro ride it about 10 times.

“It’s not sunk in properly that he’s not here anymore, I don’t think it ever will, but we can talk about him and laugh more than feel upset these days.

“But the journey will be emotional. We’re aiming to finish two days before the anniversary, and when you’re out on a bike, all you’ve got is your thoughts.

“I think for anyone to do that journey you’d be emotional at the finishing line, but we’re going to be doublely emotional.

So far the lads have been pledged more than £900 for charity.

To donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/s-walmsley/