A cyclist raising funds to buy a specialist piece of musical equipment for a children’s hospice has reflected on an “incredible, amazing and emotional” experience after riding to the factory where they are produced in Germany.
Steve Swindon wants to fund a sound cradle – a musical instrument made from layers of beech and birch veneer, bonded together to create a semi-circular shape – for the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) base in Milton.
EACH has one at The Nook, where his partner, Jane Rous-Milligan, is a Music Therapist, but not at its Cambridgeshire hospice. To raise funds and awareness, he and friend Mike Hill arranged a special ride to the factory where the cradles are made, in Bad Zwesten.
“It was an incredible, amazing and emotional experience,” said Steve, who lives in Holt and has already raised funds by completing the 100-mile RideLondon event, the 200-mile Round Norfolk Epic and the 112-mile Dunwich Dynamo overnighter.
“Allton, the company that make the cradles, were amazing and looked after us so well, arranging our hotel and inviting us to dinner. We were so grateful. We had the chance to visit their workshop and they even organised for the local press to come in and interview us.
“It’s clearly a total labour of love for them and it was great to get a glimpse behind the scenes, to see the hard work and dedication that goes into producing the cradles. They showed us particular aspects of the design, to ensure best quality, and explained where the idea first came from.
“It’s clearly not a business focused on making pots of money – it’s about producing something they’re proud of and that makes a difference to people.”
The cradle can be laid, stood vertically to provide a ‘sound shower’ or turned upside down like a dome. On each side are 18 strings, which are tuned to a monochord. When played, they resonate the entire instrument – a resonance felt intensely throughout the body, providing a sense of safety and containment.
“Going there has really crystallised and underlined why I wanted to raise this money,” added Steve.
“It was such an enjoyable experience and the bike ride itself was fantastic. It went without any hitches and we barely had any rain, apart from one refreshing shower on a hot day.
“It was physically gruelling and very hot on occasions but the scenery was stunning, especially just over the German border.
“It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Steve and Mike got underway on 16th August, cycling from The Nook, in Framingham Earl, to Harwich, before getting an overnight ferry to Hook of Holland. Their total cycling distance for the whole trip was just short of 400 miles.
Steve has now reached his fundraising target of £4,000 – significantly helped by one donation of £1,500. However, he wants to keep raising money in the hope he can fund more music equipment for The Nook.
“I’m delighted and blown away to have reached by initial target but fully intend to keep fundraising,” added Steve.
“The whole thing has been a huge success. My final ride is scheduled for 23rd September when I’m visiting all three EACH hospices – The Nook, The Treehouse, in Ipswich, Milton and then back to Norfolk.
“The estimated distance is 175 miles, which will bring my approximate distance for the year to 982 miles.”
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Pictures: Maike Lorenz (HNA)