Trio cycle south for a good cause

Celebrating completing the Sound to Sound bike event from Marlborough to Milford Sound are (from...
Celebrating completing the Sound to Sound bike event from Marlborough to Milford Sound are (from left) Richard Flay, Alison Halkyard and Roger Halkyard. The trio completed the ride in 16 days and raised a bout $4000 for Alzheimer’s Otago in memory of the Halkyard’s friend, the late Paul Ellis. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Finishing a cycle ride the length of the South Island on a sweeping ride down from the Homer Tunnel, at Milford, on an empty road was a wonderful moment for an Alexandra couple.

Alison and Roger Halkyard, along with their friend Richard Flay, of Auckland, set off from Queen Charlotte Sound on March 4 and 16 days later made their final joyous descent into Milford Sound.

"Body, bike and sense of humour all stayed intact," Mrs Halkyard said.

When they set off on the 1500km journey they had not booked accommodation far ahead and were carrying a tent as they did not know how far they would get each day.

However, after a few days they understood what they were capable of and could plan their stops ahead, she said.

They were at the tail end of the event and were passed by others who started behind them.

Their last night was spent in the tent "since [Mr Halkyard] had carried it all the way".

On their last leg they had lunch at the Homer Tunnel then had the road basically to themselves.

"We took in the scenery [while having lunch] then swooped on down."

Being able to appreciate the magnificent scenery from their bikes was one of the best things about the ride, Mrs Halkyard said.

There were a lot of logistics involved in making sure they had meals on the trip but people were accommodating and they had a cellphone to call for supplies when needed.

Their entry to the event was a donation to a charity of their choice.

They chose Alzheimer’s Otago in memory of the late Paul Ellis, whose wife Elspeth was a member of Mrs Halkyard’s Alexandra riding group.

A Givealittle page was also created and close to $4000 had been donated so far.

Alzheimer’s Otago Central Otago community educator Lynne Symons said she was delighted the Halkyards had chosen the group to benefit from their fundraising.

All the money they raised would be spent in Central Otago, Ms Symons said.

Some would be used to print more copies of their pocket-sized leaflet Top Tips for Supporting People with Dementia.

The balance of the money would be used to set up a library of resources for carers and those with Alzheimer’s from gadgets such as speaking clocks to puzzles and games.

When people no longer needed an item they could return it for someone else to use.

Dementia was an umbrella term for a range of diseases which caused different symptoms, Ms Symons said.

On average, one in 10 people under 65 had some form of dementia and one in three over 90 were affected.

However, it was not an inevitable part of ageing, she said.

There were support groups in Alexandra and Cromwell for those living with someone with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Otago was based at Community House in Alexandra where the Top Tips brochure was available and information on support groups and other assistance.

The Givealittle page is open until the end of the month.