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Retired King's School teacher cycles over 900km in six days in memory of his Grantham son and to raise awareness of Don't Lose Hope charity

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A retired schoolteacher is cycling over 900km to raise awareness and funds for charity in memory of his son.

Peter Brister, aged 69, is more than halfway through a challenge to cycle over 900km in six days to raise awareness for mental health and to raise funds for Don't Lose Hope, based in Bourne.

The challenge is a tribute to Peter's son Ed, who died in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2018, aged just 33.

Ed and Peter Brister. (57523369)
Ed and Peter Brister. (57523369)

Since then, Peter has thrown himself into charity work with Don't Lose Hope, as well as completing a challenge to mark Ed's birthday (June 26) each year, but this is his biggest one yet.

Peter planned his route around places across the country that Ed worked in, and calls it "The Journey of the Bear", inspired by Eddy Bear, Don't Lose Hope's mascot and Ed's namesake.

Peter, who began teaching at the King's School in Grantham in 1977, is now retired, and recently drove his son Dominic and two others as they completed a four peak challenge in under 48 hours, also for Don't Lose Hope.

From left: Dominic, Simon and Peter Brister. (57523424)
From left: Dominic, Simon and Peter Brister. (57523424)

Dominic said: “Ed was 33. He went to sleep and didn’t wake up. It wasn’t self-inflicted, it was an undiagnosed heart problem that he had, we had no idea. I just remember getting a phone call on the Monday morning and he’d died in his sleep.

"I can’t imagine what that’s like for any parent. What mum and dad have both done, is thrown themselves into [Don’t Lose Hope]. They know they’re both suffering, but actually, by helping others here, it’s helping them.

“Ed used to work for quite a few people over the years, so Dad basically drew a map of the UK and put dots everywhere that Ed worked, and then figured out a route to go round it.

“He’s self sufficient. He’s carrying his sleeping kit. Anything he might need, he’s carrying on the bike. I’m in contact with him probably three or four times a day. He’s doing Facebook live every time he stops for a coffee.

Peter Brister is cycling over 900km in six days in memory of his son Ed. (57523484)
Peter Brister is cycling over 900km in six days in memory of his son Ed. (57523484)

“He’s got a Strava beacon so anyone that wants to follow him, can follow him live."

Dominic said the support Peter had so far received was "massive" and that so far his dad had not yet had to pay for a single coffee or sandwich during his challenge.

He continued: “So far, he’s not paid for a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Everyone asks what he’s doing, and they just want to help.

“He pulled into Sleaford on his first day and had forgotten his water bottle. Next to the Packhorse Inn, where Ed used to work, is a bike shop. He pulled into the shop, and asked about water bottles.

"They saw his t shirt and said they’d heard about Don’t Lose Hope. They asked him what he was doing, he explained, so they gave him two water bottles and energy gels for free."

Peter started out by travelling from Grantham to Sleaford, Boston, Bourne, then stayed in Mere near Gillingham last night (Wednesday). He is staying in Wolverhampton tonight (Thursday), before heading to Warrington, then across to Manchester, Buxton and back through Derbyshire.

Over £1,600 has been raised by Peter on his JustGiving page (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thejourneyofthebear), but Dominic says that raising awareness is even more important.

He said: "It’s more about getting the awareness of “it’s okay to talk”.

“Dad's quote is along the lines of “at the end of the day it’s dark and the sun will rise again”, but now he will finish it with “for some it won’t” and that’s his little tribute to Ed, who had all these plans for the future and it didn’t happen, so [dad] is very much about seizing the day.

“I think his plan is to finish in Grantham on the Saturday and then he’s going to ride down to Bourne on Sunday, almost like a lap of honour."

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