At around 8am on Wednesday 12th July, a small group of cyclists – full of nervous excitement – prepared to set off on an inspirational, 450km journey. Ahead of Darcy, her father Brett, and her friend Eliza, lay a challenging four-day ride that would take them from Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire to England’s most westerly point, Land’s End in Cornwall!

As well as the stunning scenery, gruelling inclines and fatigue that they were expecting along the way, unbeknown to them they were also about to battle some extreme weather conditions, navigational problems, equipment failures and last-minute rerouting! Why did they choose to put themselves through all this? To raise some much-needed awareness of, and funds for, their local mental health services – including Oxford Health’s Marlborough House Adolescent Inpatient Unit in Swindon.

Darcy and Eliza explained the motivation behind their challenge:

“Both of us got our first road bike in lockdown, so we spent our limited time outside on the bikes. We both really enjoyed the local rides we completed, and slowly worked our way up to a 100km bike ride. Despite this being challenging at the time we thoroughly enjoyed it and it inspired us to take on a bigger challenge. Both of us had always wanted to raise money for various charities but in the aftermath of Covid 19, we realised that mental health is probably one of the biggest issues affecting our and all age groups. As the intensity of the pandemic seems to have decreased, the importance of mental health can be forgotten by many. However, unseen to lots of people, services are being overwhelmed by patients with mental health conditions….”

Amid the many good luck wishes and shouts of encouragement from their supporters, Darcy and her cycling crew (which also included Darcy’s Auntie Anna and cousin Tom for part of the first day) set off for what would prove to be a very demanding, but extremely meaningful, trip – meaningful both for the riders themselves and for those on whose behalf they were completing the ride.

Here are some highlights from their journey:

  • Day 1 took the group past some beautiful sights on route to Bridgwater – including quite a lengthy, unplanned detour around Bristol – while Eliza also had to power her way up hill at one point, having lost all her gears! Despite these mishaps though, all three cyclists (and their aching legs!) arrived at their hotel in a very positive mood – ready for a well-earned rest…which, as it turned out, they were going to need.


  • Day 2 presented a range of further difficulties for the team to steer through: torrential rain throughout the morning; several extremely steep, ‘never-ending’ inclines; fixing a puncture without a suitable pump; and navigation issues that took them completely off course! Darcy, Eliza and Brett persevered through it all, however. All were understandably tired and hungry on the completion of this leg, but still very grateful for the stunning Devon scenery they had ridden through during the day, as well as for the delicious Cornish shortbread and warm welcomes that awaited them at their accommodation in Okehampton.


  • Days 3 and 4 brought with them more disruption as a result of the torrential rain and 40mph winds that were forecast for their final day! For safety reasons, the team had no choice but to swap around the legs of the journey for these last two days (with the help of Darcy’s Grandad) which meant cycling to Land’s End a day early. Talking about these last-minute route changes, Darcy commented: 
“Initially we were disappointed having to adjust due to the weather conditions, however we were satisfied because we completed the distance…After, we felt very pleased and proud that we had managed to complete the whole journey especially considering the conditions and extreme weather.”


Given all the challenges that they were faced with during this trip, it would have been completely understandable if Darcy, Eliza and Brett had ultimately made the decision to abandon their route part way through. Particularly as there is nothing anyone can do when faced with the delights of the British weather! However, despite the range of difficulties that arose, they chose to persevere through them all in order to achieve their goal – spurred on each day not just by the knowledge that they were raising funds for a cause that was close to their hearts, and which would benefit so many others, but also by the messages of encouragement and support they received from friends and family.

Through their truly heroic efforts, Darcy, Eliza and Brett raised an astounding £2000 for Marlborough House’s ‘Positivity Pot’ Appeal! The Oxford Health Charity team are now working closely with staff to determine how these substantial funds can be of most benefit to the unit’s service users. After the event, Darcy shared her thoughts on the funds raised:

“I hope this donation will help the young people who are staying as inpatients. It feels amazing to have raised so much for the unit, especially knowing it will hopefully help benefit lots of young people.”

Oxford Health Charity wish to express our sincere thanks (and the thanks of the Marlborough House team), along with our admiration, to Darcy, Eliza and Brett for their unwavering commitment to this challenge as well as their amazing support for Marlborough House.  

Darcy wished to share one final, inspirational thought to all young people experiencing difficulties with their mental health:

“We would just like to share some hope for people that are struggling that it does get better, take it one day at a time and everything will be okay….”