Rye man with advanced prostate cancer completes 4,000-mile cycle for charity

A Rye man with advanced prostate cancer has finished a 4,000-mile cycle around the coast of Great Britain.

Simon Aylett, 59, finished the trip yesterday (Saturday, October 30) as he raised £27,000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Setting off from his home in May, Mr Aylett completed the challenge on an e-bike with a homemade miniature caravan attached.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The journey took Mr Aylett around the coast of Great Britain before ending back in Rye with friends and family celebrating his return at a pub.

Simon Aylett with his bike and homemade miniature caravan SUS-211031-112422001

The trip took 72 days, although there were some pauses due to the bike breaking and Mr Aylett needing to return to hospital for scans and treatment.

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, Mr Aylett was told in 2017 that the cancer had spread and he only had 12 months of good health left.

Determined to make the most of this time, Mr Aylett completed his first e-bike challenge in the summer of 2018 – a 2,000-mile cycle from Rye to Syracuse in Sicily, Italy as he raised thousands for charity.

By 2019, Mr Aylett had become unwell and his treatment – which had included surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapies – was resistant to treatment.

Simon Aylett on the coast SUS-211031-112412001

However, in 2020 he was accepted onto a phase one clinical trial at The Royal Marsden’s Oak Drug Development Unit, which is funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

A spokesperson from the charity said the drug is currently working well for Mr Aylett, with his Prostate-Specific Antigen score dramatically reduced.

Earlier this year, Mr Aylett decided it was time to get back on his e-bike and this time to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The charity spokesperson said, “The funds raised by Simon will support the Oak Drug Development Unit, which provides a pathway for newly discovered drugs to be tested in phase one clinical trials.

Simon Aylett with his bike and homemade miniature caravan SUS-211031-112401001

“The unit treats close to 300 patients a year on phase one trials, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world.”

Mr Aylett said, “After being told my prostate cancer had spread, I thought my cycle to Sicily would be my swansong ride but three years on I’m still here due to the pioneering treatment I’ve received at The Royal Marsden.

“This treatment means I’ve met my first granddaughter, spent more precious time with my family and have been able to complete this challenge to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

“The trip, which came with lots of highs and lows, in a strange way has echoed my experience of cancer. For example, both have thrown many curveballs my way. Like setbacks after my diagnosis, including my cancer spreading and treatments becoming resistant, I’ve had to contend with steep hills, daily punctures and the bike breaking down multiple times.

“However, besides the sheer staggering beauty of Great Britain’s countryside and coast, it’s people that have got me through this trip, in much the same way as my loved ones have supported me since my diagnosis.

“From the lovely woman in Wick who put me up for a couple of nights when I couldn’t find a campsite, to the Welsh couple who rescued me when I got stuck on a hill outside their house, I’ve been blown away by the kindness of so many.”

Antonia Dalmahoy, managing director of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, said, “We’re incredibly grateful to Simon for his fundraising efforts, which are a testament to his generosity and willpower, and it’s been inspirational to follow his journey around the coast of Great Britain.”

“Thanks to the innovative, life-extending drugs being trialled at The Royal Marsden, people like Simon are able to live longer with cancer.

“The money he has raised for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity will help fund new ways of fighting all cancers, including prostate, across the UK and beyond.”