A proud mum from Sidmouth had a lump-in-throat moment and wept with joy when her five-year-old son was cheered home after his July-long cycle challenge for the NHS.
Toby Hodgson, of Salters Meadow, Sidmouth, pedaled the equivalent distance from Sidmouth to Southampton, cycling a daily circuit around the town each day of July, accompanied by his mum.
The Sidmouth Primary School pupil has raised more than £1,000 for the NHS Charities Together, with donations still rolling in through a JustGiving page. As word spread of his efforts, strangers gave cash when Toby cycled past.
Mum Gemma, aged 35, was choked with emotion when friends and well-wishers lined the seafront to ring bells and cheer as Toby cycled the final few metres of his challenge, totting up 138km in total.
School friends held high a home-made banner for ‘Super Toby’, cheering their five-year-old pal along the home straight.
And charity runner Zaq Bevan, from Sidford, who inspired Toby’s cycle challenge, one morning ran alongside the youngster.
Toby’s mum said seeing the two charity champions together brought a lump to her throat.
The mum-of-two, who cycled the 4km each day with her son because he was ‘too small’ to go alone, said: “On the last day I was in pieces a lot of the way. It was just emotional, it was beautiful.
“People came out cheering and clapping. A couple of his school friends came out, they made a banner. It was so emotional.
“His school teacher came out and saw him, which had me in pieces. It was just lovely.
“On the last day we came down past the seafront and everybody was cheering and clapping and ringing bells.
“I can’t watch the video of it. It makes me cry. Just seeing his friends and everybody there to support him was lovely.”
Young Toby was inspired to cycle a daily circuit around Sidmouth after cheering on novice runner turned marathon man, Zaq Bevan, from Sidford, who clocked up hundreds of miles through lockdown.
When Toby learned Zaq was using his hour of exercise during lockdown to raise cash for NHS Charities Together, he asked mum Gemma if a fundraising cycle challenge could be done.
“We saw Zaq, he was doing his run towards us. I said ‘give him a clap, he’s doing really well’, said Gemma.
“Toby asked what he was doing and why, and what it was all about. Then asked ‘can you do that on a bike?’.
“I didn’t think much about it. A little bit later he said ‘can we do that then?’. He wanted to cycle and raise money for the NHS.
“He is a wonderful little boy. This is his personality all over. He’s just a lovely person.”
Gemma added: “Zaq inspired him and it went from there really. It’s been amazing, everybody has been lovely.
“Zaq ran alongside Toby one morning. It was lump-in-the-throat moment. It’s amazing that two people in our local town, between them, have raised over £4,000 for the NHS.”
Zaq Bevan said: “I am so happy he got through with the support he had.
“I had the privilege of meeting this young lad and he is such a lovely little guy.
“His mother Gemma did so well to keep going with him every morning too. Hats off to her also.
“Sadly, I couldn’t get to the last day but I am hoping to arrange something with him and the family – maybe another little challenge or something would be great.”
Early each morning, the youngster and Gemma set off at around 6.30am, to beat the traffic.
They were often joined by Toby’s three-year-old sister, Honey, settled in her seat on the back of mum Gemma’s bike.
There is still time to donate to Toby’s cycle challenge through his JustGiving page, here.
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