Cyclists rode through the hottest weekend of the year so far as they completed 24 hours in memory of a much-loved dad-of-two and police inspector who died in a devastating bike accident.
Members of Formby Velo, Sefton Velo, Merseyside Police officers and other supporters have already raised more than £7,600 during their epic Ride4Graeme fundraiser in memory of Graeme Rooney.
The funds will be donated to Everton In The Community, with Graeme a keen Evertonian.
Duncan Ferguson, Graham Stuart and Ian Snodin were among Everton stars who headed down to Formby to lend support to the riders.
Graeme, 51, was cycling in Altcar, near Formby, when he was involved in a collision with a van in June 2020. Sadly he died shortly after arriving at Aintree Hospital.
He was a popular member of local club Formby Velo.
His great friends and fellow club members were joined by colleagues and friends from Merseyside Police, and began their Ride4Graeme challenge at 12pm yesterday (Saturday 29th May) and clocked up as many miles – and money raised for charity – as they could by the end of the ride at 12pm earlier today (Sunday 30th May).
Local comedian and photographer Brendan Riley was there to capture photos of the event.
Graeme was a passionate Everton fan, so his friends were raising money for Everton in the Community, a wonderful charity that was close to his heart.
Merseyside Police Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy said: “Graeme was a brilliant family-man, police officer, and friend, and is greatly missed every day by his colleagues at Merseyside Police.
“He served the communities of Merseyside as an officer for 27 years, and was a true professional who was respected by the public and his colleagues alike.
“Graeme was a keen cyclist and Everton supporter, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to him than the Ride4Graeme challenge this weekend, which is raising money for the fantastic charity ‘Everton in the Community’.
“I am incredibly proud of our officers taking part to commemorate Graeme.”
Formby Velo said: “Twelve months ago, on 2nd June 2020, Graeme Rooney died in a tragic accident whilst out riding his bike with his club Formby Velo.
“Graeme was many things to many people – not least a loving dad, son and husband – and to us he was simply a top bloke and one of the lads.
“Graeme loved his long endurance rides and in his day had ridden solo to Paris as well as completing the Tommy Godwin challenge of over 200 miles in a single day.
“We wanted to celebrate Graeme and his riding by taking on our own endurance challenge as a club – Collectively Ride As Many Miles As We Can In 24 Hours.
“This is not just about a few doing a lot, it’s about everyone in the club and the wider cycling community riding as many miles as they want in memory of Graeme. We expect some riders to go over the 100 mile mark and there is even the possibility of a few exceeding 300 miles in the 24 hour period! It’s not a race, it’s about everyone riding as many miles as they wish in memory of a great bloke and fellow cyclist.
“We plan to start at 12pm on Saturday 29th May and finish at 12pm on Sunday 30th May. We will ride a loop of 30 miles at approximately two hour intervals and would encourage any cyclists who want to join us to feel free to do so.
“The final lap will begin at 10am on Sunday 30th. It will be steadily paced and we would love as many people as possible to join us on that final lap. Those who have done the 22 hours before will need all the encouragement they can get!”
The meeting point and start point for each lap and for the 10am Sunday 30th May final lap was Formby MOT, at 107 Altcar Road, Formby.
Formby Velo said: “Graeme was a long serving police officer and part of the community liaison with both Everton and Liverpool football clubs. He was a big Blue though!
“We are therefore raising money for Everton in the Community, a wonderful charity that leads the way in the community which was close to Graeme’s heart.”