Head of Academy Darren Hare proudly completes the Tour de Kent
Darren Hare revealed how proud he was to complete the `Tour de Kent, ` over the weekend in an event which saw a number of riders raise money for charity.
The event, taking place for the first time over the Bank Holiday weekend, saw competitors complete a series of stages across three days with all proceeds going to Take Heart Mercy Mission and Cardiac Risk in the Young.
The tour began at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday, and after several stops at football grounds across the county, it concluded at the ground on Monday after a hectic and demanding schedule.
Darren, who was joined on the tour by event organiser Roger Maddams and Andy Hessenthaler, said completing the tour presented a significant milestone for him considering the personal battles he had to overcome two years ago following a heart attack.
Speaking exclusively to the club’s official website he said:
“The sense of achievement at the end of it was immense and we were cycling for two great causes – the Chairman’s Take Heart Mercy Mission charity, and obviously CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).
“Even more poignant from a CRY perspective with the fact that Jack Sellens is one of our young apprentices and he got picked up by the scans that they provided free of charge and he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it.
“Another reason was from a personal point of view having had a major, major hurdle to get over from my health two years ago having had two heart attacks and it was an important milestone and challenge to get over.
“It was a massive milestone, a barrier if you like. Jack is now back on the road to getting 100% fit and he is doing really well.
"It was always going to be tough and I had question marks as to whether I’d be able to do it but I’m so proud that I was able to.
“Any little pain I get in my chest I now have to dismiss because there isn’t anything wrong with my heart now.
“I was in a hospital bed – I had my first heart attack which nearly killed me, and six weeks later I had another one.
"I had a few problems with my arteries but once we got to the bottom of it I had to make some lifestyle changes and it took me a year to get back to the stage where I felt 100%.
“I have the club to thank for that – the Chairman was brilliant and didn’t put me under any pressure to come back early, and when I did I didn’t have to do too much and it was a phased return.
“To take on this challenge, and people warned me not to do it, I had to do it and it was such a challenge.
“I’d like to do it again next year but I’m suffering with my joints because I didn’t realise it was such a tough thing to do.
“I didn’t push myself too much in a cardiovascular sense but the rest of my body is in bits and it will take me a week to recover and I needed to do more preparation so I’ll do it again and prepare properly.
"There were periods I really enjoyed, the flat and downhill bits!
“There was a sense of pride and achievement and I was a bit emotional when I came in at the end and my kids were there.”
Darren paid tribute to Roger Maddams and the number of volunteers who gave up their time to ensure the riders were well refreshed at various points along the route.
He added: “Hats off to Roger Maddams because the organisation was terrific. The people, the camaraderie, the support and I’d like to say thanks to the people who came past and said `keep going,` and there was a lot of them!
“The whole event could raise in excess of £60,000 for both charities and that speaks volumes for the work Roger has put in.
“There were so many volunteers that gave their time up. We had flapjacks at every stop, drinks and the other side of River Hill we saw the `Tour de Kent` flags and knowing you could have some food it was amazing and it felt like you were part of a big team.
“For people that hadn’t probably prepared as they might have done it was a very tough event, but it was rewarding I must say.”
Darren revealed he is planning to send a letter of thanks along with a picture of himself completing the tour to Medway Hospital where he was treated to inspire others who have had heart problems.
He added: “I had such great care when I was at Medway Hospital and I can’t thank them enough because I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did without that.
“The care up there was fantastic – the nurses, doctors, everybody was superb.
"I’m sure there’s a picture of me cycling up at some point and I’d like to send a letter with it saying `after two years this is what you can achieve. `
“Hopefully it might inspire a few others who are ill or are in a similar situation to me.
“It will be a message of thanks really and I won’t have a bad word said about the NHS because they saved my life and I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale if it wasn’t for them.”