Eammon Postelthwaite is a tour-de-force when it comes to cycling. The ten-year-old rode 320 miles from his home in Mossley to the mountainous Clare island at the entrance to Clew Bay in County Mayo, Ireland.
He races for ESV Manchester at the city's Velodrome, but when the going got tough the memory of a friend spurred him on. His awesome effort raised more than £1,400 towards setting up a centre for teenagers, which will be a legacy to his pal.
George's Den is being created as a tribute to George Butterworth-Sice, who died from cancer last year, just a week before his 14th birthday. Eammon was a neighbour of George. He died just one month after being diagnosed.
George fell ill with swollen glands in May last year. But in the first week of June his family were told he had T-cell lymphoma, a type of leukaemia. He had a month of intense chemotherapy. Doctors put him in a coma to allow his body to rest. His family visited the ward to say their goodbyes, thinking they would speak to him again when he woke up. But it was the last time they would ever see him alive. George passed away on Saturday, July 3rd.
Eammon's fundraising will help finance the centre being set-up in the basement of Baden House (1st Mossley Scouts) in Mossley. The aim is for it to be a safe place for teenagers where they can express themselves, have fun, explore their talents but also receive support, and a legacy to "authentic, vibrant and kind" George.
Eamonn, a pupil at St Edward's RC Primary school in Lees, his sister, Ciara, 13, their father Matt, and friend Mike Grace, set-off from Mossley to Liverpool on the Trans-Pennine Trail. Ciara then left the boys to catch a ferry to Belfast.
From Liverpool the three took a ferry across the River Mersey to Birkenhead and then sailed to Belfast. They then rode to the west coast of Ireland, climbing over 10,000 feet and passing through eight different counties.
The trio rode mainly on quiet roads and had only one puncture the whole journey. Matt said: "George's family live in the same street as us in Mossley. I had planned to do this ride, but my wife, Clare, who is a good friend of George's mum, Lauren, suggested we should do it to raise money for George's Den. Mike and I had paniers on our bikes, and the biggest problem was to stop Eammon from flying past us.
"It took us four and a half days of cycling to complete the trip. Leaving Belfast we took a coastal route and after a few B-roads we stuck mainly to the quiet minor roads. They were a bit up and down, and very hilly in parts, but Eammon was fine. His main complaint was "why can't we go the fastest way'. He is like a machine. We had to stay in places at night - if we had gone for the hardcore camping I don't think we would have managed it."
The challenge meant 7.30am starts from motels, B&B's and hostels which they stayed in overnight and late finishes. But they managed to get in a swim in the nippy Atlantic Ocean in County Donegal.
Matt, an accountant, said: "I'd be grinding my way up another climb and suddenly Eamonn would shoot past just as I was nearing the top of the hill. He was the least tired of all of us. But there wasn’t a drop of rain the whole way, it was hard work in parts."
Eamonn said: "I did 82 miles in one day - which was my record distance. I am very happy to have raised so much money for George. My dad was a bit slow and the best bit was sprinting ahead of him."
Eamonn has an impressive cycling pedigree, racing for Eastlands Velo based at the Manchester Velodrome, who he joined two years ago, and training with Mossley CRT at the Tameside Cycle Circuit, where he has been a member since the age of four.
There is an initial target of £20,000 for the building work on Baden Powell House for George's Den. There is a second target of £50,000 for the base to be fully equipped. With Eammon's effort a total of £15,000 has been raised so far.