This was the emotional moment when Harborough friends completed a 1,000-mile challenge in memory of Ellis White, who died of Covid at the age of just 24

They raised over £30,000 for an NHS charity in memory of their great friend

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 1:24 pm
Chris with Ellis’s mum Tracey at the finish line.

Harborough friends have completed an epic cycle ride of almost 1,000 miles in memory of Ellis White who died from Covid-19 at the age of just 24.

And they raised over £30,000 for an NHS charity in memory of their great friend.

The small army of 12 best mates battled from John O’Groats at the northern tip of Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall in just 10 back-breaking days in a heart-warming tribute to Ellis.

Ellis White with his mother, Tracey.

They got on their bikes and clocked up a stunning 954 miles months after much-loved Kibworth Beauchamp man Ellis tragically died from Covid.

The friends set out to generate £20,000 for Leicester Hospitals Charity after much-missed Ellis was treated at both Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General.

But they are now poised to smash the £32,000 barrier after obliterating their original target.

Ecstatic Chris Packwood, set to celebrate turning 25 on Friday (August 20), told the Harborough Mail: “We are just so pleased to get over the line for Ellis.

The cyclists getting set for their 1,000-mile challenge.

“It’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever done and we were all totally shattered by the time we rolled into Land’s End at 7pm on Wednesday August 11.

“But we were determined to do it for Ellis – and our fundraising campaign’s just hit the roof.”

Chris, from Fleckney, said the lung-busting marathon ride the length of Britain was his idea “over a few beers with the lads one night”.

“We knew we all wanted to do something huge for Ellis, we just didn’t know what.

Harborough friends have completed an epic cycle ride of almost 1,000 miles in memory of Ellis White who died from Covid-19 at the age of just 24.

“So I suggested riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

“We then got down to booking time off work, organising the route, sorting out bikes – before realising that we’d better get out quickly and get some cycling in!

“The ride itself pretty much went to plan – with a few dramas thrown in.

“We had a few mini-detours, tyre punctures hit double figures and it was a good job we had a spare bike with us,” said Chris, who’s just moved to London to work.

The cyclists during their challenge.

“We also had a couple of crashes!

“We had a two-man pile-up on a cycle path near Inverness on day three.

“And on day seven one of the lads, Ash, crashed into the side of a van on a blind corner near Ludlow in Shropshire.

“I promptly ran into the back of him and flew straight over my handlebars.

“Luckily I landed on my helmet and we both escaped with cuts and bruises – it could have been so much worse.

“Thank goodness we had our pals Brett Parlour and Jack Digby trailing us in a support vehicle, they came to our rescue time and again,” said Chris, a construction engineer.

Ellis White with his friends.

“We racked up huge distances every day, ranging from 87 miles all the way up to 112 miles.

“We’d be out for up to 13 hours a day in all sorts of weathers tackling hills and climbs.

“We had our fair share of ups and downs, in more ways than one.

“It was a physical and mental rollercoaster from start to finish.

“Anyone reasonably fit can bike 100 miles a day.

“But it’s grinding it out back to back day after day that’s so exhausting, so shattering,” said Chris.

“All of us had mornings where it was so tough to drag ourselves out of bed and get back in the saddle.

“We all had aches and pains, intense knee pain, even sore wrists from all the shock and shaking through the handlebars.

“But Ellis kept us all going.

“He was a brilliant guy and such a great mate of ours – and he helped drag us over the line.

“There were about 50 family and friends to cheer us home at Land’s End, including Ellis’s mum Tracey.

“There were a lot of tears – tears of emotion, tears of relief, tears of sheer exhaustion.

“We celebrated with them all in St Ives, it was just unforgettable.”

Hailing Ellis, Chris’s girlfriend Alice Billson, 24, told the Mail: “Chris got to know Ellis way back in Year 7 at school in Kibworth and they became inseparable.

“Nearly all the other lads knew Ellis too – and he was just an amazing friend to all of us.

“He worked at Sigma Sports in Oakham and he just loved to get out and about on his bike.

“Ellis had a kidney transplant in 2019 and was put on anti-rejection drugs – making him very vulnerable during the pandemic.

“Despite isolating very carefully at home he somehow contracted Covid-19 in January this year.

“He was just 24 when he very sadly passed away on February 12,” said Alice, who said Ellis lived with his brother in Kibworth Beauchamp.

“The shock hit us all like a ton of bricks when he died.

“Ellis was a loving, charismatic friend and his infectious laugh filled every room.

“He was loved so much by his family, friends and colleagues - and everyone else who had the privilege of knowing him,” added Alice, of Mowsley, near Market Harborough.

“Ellis was selfless, thoughtful and supportive - and made a massive impact on all our lives.

“Now Chris and the rest of the lads have done themselves proud and Ellis proud by completing this incredible cycle ride.

“We’d also like to thank everyone who’s helped us raise almost £32,000.

“It’s a phenomenal amount – and highlights just how much Ellis was liked and loved.”

The heroes on two wheels who pushed themselves to the limit are Chris Packwood, Olly Povoas, Will Clow, Luke Mathers, Henry Moss, James Dixon, Ashley Seaton, Kain Rix, Henry Povoas, Charlie Guadagnini, Jon Butler and Connor Bradbury with Brett Parlour and Jack Digby backing them up.

If you would like to help them top £32,000 for the Leicester Hospitals Charity visit their fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elliswhite96

Harborough friends have completed an epic cycle ride of almost 1,000 miles in memory of Ellis White who died from Covid-19 at the age of just 24.