FORCE Cancer Charity has taken the difficult decision to make this year’s Nello cycle ride a virtual event again for 2021 due to increasing concerns over the latest rise in COVID cases.
The charity’s single biggest annual fundraiser was due to take place on Sunday June 27.
More than 1,100 cyclists had signed up to ride from Topsham Rugby Club and cover 100 or 55 miles around the Devon countryside.
But the Government’s decision to delay moving to Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown meant the charity had to reconsider its options.
FORCE CEO Meriel Fishwick and Sarah Daniels, the charity’s Head of Income Generation, issued a joint statement:
“It is with heavy hearts that we have to inform you that the 2021 Nello cycle ride for FORCE Cancer Charity, scheduled for Sunday June 27, will be changing to a 'virtual' event again this year.
“It has been a hugely difficult decision and one we didn’t want to have to make, knowing the disappointment for cyclists and the potential loss of essential fundraising for our charity.
“As you are probably aware, Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown has been delayed and current restrictions were not lifted on Monday, as we had originally hoped.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 is here in Devon and is known to be more transmissible than previous strains of the coronavirus. We have a duty to public health to do everything we can to minimise any risk of spreading the virus in the community we are so proud to serve.
“Around 1,200 cyclists were due to ride out from Topsham Rugby Club to cover 100 or 55 miles around the Devon countryside before returning to the rugby club.
“Despite the extensive work done to ensure that the event complied with all COVID-safe protocols issued by the Government, the potential risk with so many people gathering at the start/finish area and food stops is just too great. Topsham Rugby Club is a great venue for this event but with only one entrance/exit, it would be impossible to safely manage timed starts with traffic coming in and cyclists going out. We also need to consider that the large number of FORCE staff and volunteers who make The Nello run so smoothly are also working with vulnerable patients every day in our role as a cancer support charity.
“We would urge all those who have entered to undertake a virtual Nello ride – something so many of you did last year with fantastic success, raising £75,000. It will be different this year as people will be able to ride in groups of up to 30 cyclists (respecting social distancing advice). Details of the virtual event, collection of medals etc. will be sent out early next week.
“The Nello is FORCE’s biggest single fundraising event of the year and has raised more than £1million for the charity since it was first staged in 2000. With the significant reduction of fundraising income due to the pandemic, this year's Nello is particularly important as our charity looks to maintain its cancer support services, something we have continued to do throughout the challenges of the last 15 months. Read our latest magazine to find out about how we have continued to support local people affected by cancer throughout the pandemic.
“We are so sorry to share news that The Nello 2021 will be a virtual event again this year. We know that you look forward to this fantastic celebration of love, life and community spirit as much as we do.
"We thank you for your continued support and understanding.”