Deano joins ‘Mad Dog 100’ charity bike ride

Sunday 17 April 2022 Written by: Adam

Richards will join the riders setting off from Hinckley Rugby Club and pedalling their way around the Leicestershire countryside, with fellow Leicester Tigers old boys Freddie Tuilagi, Martin Corry, Neil Back, Darren Garforth, Harry Ellis and Darren Grewcock just some of the names joining in.

The group will wind their way around the near-60-mile route, camping at Tuilagi-Laird Park for the launch night of Freddie Tuilagi’s inaugural rugby festival. For those who survive the night there will be a game of over-40s rugby the next day, followed by the return ride back to Hinckley Rugby Club.

Those who want to join in the fun can do so in a number of ways – either by applying to take part in the ride, donating to the charity or supporting the cyclists.

The driving force behind the event is Paul Williams, affectionately known as ‘Mad Dog’ for his uncompromising playing style.

Paul, 58, has helped raise more than £500,000 for good causes through ‘Gravity Fundraiser’ events, held in conjunction with friends including Tigers old boys Dean Richards, Harry Roberts, John Duggan and Neil Fletcher. These events have been instrumental in assisting numerous local charities and families with disabled children in and around the Leicestershire area.

Sadly, however, on Christmas Eve last year, Paul was diagnosed with cancer of his mouth. He has since had a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, arranged by the oncology department at Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI). After six gruelling weeks, with sores and blisters affecting his eating and breathing, he finished his course of treatment, and in true Mad Dog style, not once has he moaned about it.

Instead, he and his fellow Gravity Fundraisers have used their many connections within the rugby fraternity to set about raising the money which will help the LRI continue to provide an incredible level of service, dealing with cancer and saving lives.

Paul said: “One of the great things about rugby is how people stick together and help those who need it.

“Since word began to get our about us doing this ride I’ve had calls from all sorts of people wanting to help or take part, and that’s been really pleasing. Other local rugby clubs are getting involved, we’ve got a number of Leicester Tigers greats helping to raise the profile and it should be a lot of fun.

“Some of the lads are getting some sneaky early training in, but it’s all for a great cause. The team at the LRI were incredible in helping me get through my cancer treatment, and we just want to help them so other patients and families can benefit from the same amazing level of care that I’ve had.

“We’re looking for around 100 riders, and people can register through our website as well as donating through our Just Giving page. There are also a lot of other ways in which people can help us – by sponsoring riders, donating certain items or supporting the cyclists on the day.”

Explaining the origins of the idea, he added: “We’ve staged these charity events over the last 20 years, although for various reasons it had been a little while since we’d all been able to do one. Just before Christmas I had the shock of my cancer diagnosis, and around the same time I had some photos pop into my Facebook memories from one of the previous bike rides we’d done together.

“At the time I was just thinking about a small ride to help the oncology department who had been so good with my own treatment – maybe 10 or so of us doing a little local one – but through speaking to the likes of Dean and Harry Roberts, they just said if we’re going to do it, let’s go big!

“We began putting some ideas together, and with me being a former chairman of Hinckley Rugby Club we decided to start and end the ride there. It just so happens that Freddie Tuilagi has a rugby festival happening that weekend at Tuilagi-Laird Park, and Freddie is a good mate of ours, so it all slotted into place in terms of camping at the festival, holding a bit of a game there and then setting off for the return ride to Hinckley Rugby Club.”

For more information on the Mad Dog 100, please [**click here**][1].

To make a donation, please [**click here**][2].

For information on the Tuilagi Rugby Festival, please [**click here**][3].