Co Down cyclist travels 75 miles to mark 75th birthday and raise £11,000 for charity
A Co Down cyclist who travelled 75 miles to mark his 75th birthday has raised more than £11,000 for a charity he has volunteered with for more than 50 years.
Greer Lowe from Downpatrick cycled along the Co Down coast and Ards Peninsula in aid of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), which delivers aid to some of the world's most remote communities.
He gathered a team of local cyclists from the Downpatrick area to complete the challenging route and also rallied support from friends and relatives across the globe - including his brother in New Zealand and children and grandchildren in Australia and Timor Leste.
His international team joined him via WhatsApp for a section of the bike ride before the sun set on his birthday in the southern hemisphere.
During the day, the team cycled over 1,000 miles for MAF's 7&5 challenge - a fundraising campaign to honour the charity's 75th anniversary.
Mr Lowe decided to mark his special birthday by setting a £7,500 target and raised £11,227 towards the airline's life-saving work.
The charity was founded in the aftermath of WWII by a handful of RAF veterans and now flies to more remote destinations than any other airline.
Mr Lowe's son, Jonathan, has also been a mission pilot with MAF in Timor Leste and Arnhem Land, Northern Australia, for over a decade.
Mr Lowe said: "Cycling has been a way to keep fit with a handful of friends over the past five or six years and our little group from Strangford and Kilclief has grown considerably.
"It has been a wonderful way to make new connections.
"We are blessed to live in such beautiful countryside, and my weekly cycle rides have been a great outlet for me this past year."
But Mr Lowe said his fundraising target was the most daunting part of the challenge.
"I have never set out to raise this much before, and £7,500 is a very big target," he said.
"However, MAF is worth it. Their work saves lives in very remote communities across the world - some who have no access to any medical or practical help.
"I'm overjoyed that we have exceeded our target - and I'm so grateful for everyone who has supported us so far.
"I'm also proud of the guys and girls who completed the bike ride with me – it was a great day and the conditions were on our side. This will certainly be a birthday to remember."
Ruth Whitaker from MAF-UK said: "Greer and his cycling team have truly gone the extra mile in cycling a very challenging distance and for raising such an impressive amount for MAF.
"It's heartening to see people joining from across the world to support MAF and mark Greer's birthday - Greer is truly an exceptional volunteer."