Taunton Active Life Lead to take on Epic Cycling Challenge

Stuart Hooper, the Active Life Lead at Cygnet Hospital Taunton, who helps service users to keep physically fit and active is undertaking the cycling challenge of a lifetime in an effort to raise £2,000 for his chosen charity.

At Cygnet Hospital Taunton, the 54-bed mental health hospital for men, Stuart engages service users in enrichment activities, helping them in staying active through one-to-one or group physical engagement session at an intensity which suits their needs.

In June, Stuart, a registered and accredited performance coach, will be cycling more than 470 kilometres (300 miles) over four days from the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The challenge is being done in aid of the charity ‘Best Mates’, which aims to make a difference in people’s lives through financial, emotional and physical support. Stuart is hoping to raise at least £2,000 for the Swindon-based charity after they enabled service users at Cygnet Hospital Taunton to stay active with gifts of footwear and sporting equipment.

He said: “I spent 20 years in education, and five years ago I started a new career in mental health with Cygnet Health Care. I understand first-hand how compassion, empathy, respect and good care truly helps patients who are struggling with their mental health.”

“Having witnessed events and support offered and given to patients by the Best Mates team, I felt compelled to give back in some way. The team at Best Mates were very generous with donations they made to the Cygnet Hospital Taunton patients.”

“Working with patients is the best thing about my job, they are at the centre of what we do and working to make a difference in their lives is a real privilege.”

“That ethos aligns with the team at Best Mates. They too do all they can in order to make a real difference to people’s lives. So being able to ride with them to help more people have a positive outlook on life, or take away some stress and worry, is a challenge which really motivates me.”

Stuart said he has been training hard to get in good shape for the cycle challenge. He added: “I’m definitely putting the miles in to get used to being on a bike for that length of time. Of course I’m nervous of the challenge too but I’m excited and ready to give it my best.”

“There’s bound to be many challenging points throughout with lots of elevation points on the way to Dover but hopefully the roads will be flatter towards Paris and some nice weather along the way will definitely help.”

“I’m sure that seeing Paris for the first time will be a huge sigh of relief, but when I look back at the end of the challenge and think about the distance we’ve achieved, I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.. I’ll certainly complete the challenge with a smile on my face and enjoy it as best as I can.”

The charity recruit volunteers – known as “Mates” – who have all been through their own unique situations, people who have managed to navigate and seek the help they have needed to get their lives back on track.

When people reach out for help, it pairs them with a “Mate” who will make contact and spend time to meet up or talk over the phone to allow a non-judgemental conversation and to share information of what they did to pull themselves out of their situation, as well as advice on how the charity can help.

To donate to Stuart’s fundraising page, go to:  https://www.justgiving.com/page/stu-hoops-1712864392099

Share this article