Hampshire FA and Stoneham Lane Football Complex’s Senior Duty Manager, Matt Meadus, will cycle from London to Brighton in September, raising money for the charities ‘Friends of PICU’ and 'Child Bereavement UK'.
You might know Matt as Senior Duty Manager at Stoneham Lane Football Complex, or you might know him as Southampton RTC Chairman, EDMSL committee member, or Hamble Club Youth FC Development Officer.
In June 2020, Matt’s family suffered the tragic loss of his nephew, Harlee, aged just 11 years old. Their world was suddenly turned upside down, when they had to say goodbye to their smiley, caring, beautiful young man; a devastating time for Matt and his family. Harlee played football locally and loved supporting the saints (although Matt's sure he was a secret Man City fan).
Harlee was admitted to Southampton Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), having collapsed after complaining of a bad headache. Unfortunately, after days of testing and fantastic support and care from all the medical staff at the hospital, Harlee didn't recover and sadly passed away peacefully with his close family beside him.
On Sunday 19th September 2021, Matt, along with Harlee’s Dad (Ryan) and Uncle (Chris), will take on the mammoth challenge of cycling from London to Brighton, raising money for the charities ‘Friends of PICU’ and 'Child Bereavement UK' in Harlee’s memory.
Friends of PICU was set up in 2006 by parents of children on the PICU and PICU medical staff, who all wanted to give back to the PICU for future children and families. Friends of PICU donates various equipment and services to provide potential lifesaving care for critically ill children.
Discussing the reasons why they wanted to take on this challenge, Matt explained, "It was such a devastating time for us as a family and we would like to thank the staff in PICU for how supportive and caring they were to us all."
"Even though the staff knew that there was nothing more they could do to help Harlee, each one of them came into the room and spoke to Harlee, telling him who they were, what they were doing with the machines and when moving him they showed such compassion. The lovely idea of providing hand printing and making sure they got all the colours that Harlee’s brother and sister wanted was so thoughtful. We really can’t thank them all enough for the way they looked after Harlee”
The total bike ride will cover 55 miles from London's Clapham Common to Brighton Seafront. None of Matt, Ryan or Chris have any comparable cycling experience. This will be the first time that any of them have taken on a challenge of this kind. In fact, on their JustGiving page they describe themselves as “completely amateur, slightly unfit and mouthy lads on bikes”.
Matt told us, "Although this started as a laugh and seemed very unachievable, I have found a new love of cycling and really cant wait, Training has been interesting... the forever changing Great British weather is something that takes some getting used to as well as the cycling attire... I've already fallen off a few times getting used to the cleats. The term 'all the gear, no idea' springs to mind."
"So far my best bit of advice is: get some really good padded shorts"
Everyone at Hampshire FA is extremely proud of the work that Matt is doing for such a great cause. We wish Matt, Ryan and Chris the very best of luck, not just for the challenge, but also for the months of hard training and preparation that they are dedicating to this challenge.
You can find out more about Matt’s cycling challenge, and donate, on their JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/when-the-paceline-drops