Britain’s most decorated female cyclist Dame Laura Kenny needs little further introduction.
Last Tuesday, the five-time Olympic champion attended a charity luncheon on the top floor of the exquisite El Gato Negro Tapas in central Manchester to show her support for Professor Rob Wynn.
Professor Rob Wynn is the Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit in the Royal
Manchester Children’s Hospital and Honorary Professor of Clinical Paediatric Haematology and Cellular Therapy.
He will join a team of 24 other cyclists tackling all 21 stages of the 2023 Tour de France route, just one week ahead of the professionals to raise funds for Cure Leukaemia’s Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) Network.
Rob has seen firsthand the incredible and continuing impact that the charity has had in research in this area, and is preparing to jump on his bike to show his support as he tackles “The Tour 21” event in June/July 2023.
The event will see him joining a team of 20 other amateur cyclists completing all 21 stages of the Tour de France – just seven days before the professionals.
Rob is raising awareness of leukaemia in children with the aim of helping children in Manchester gain access to a wide range of alternative cancer treatments should regular courses be unresponsive.
Rob is Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit for one of Britain’s largest and most innovative transplant programmes at the hospital.
Currently, several new cell therapies for kids with otherwise incurable leukaemia are open in Manchester, and kids travel to Manchester from all over the UK.
He has spent nearly 25 years as a paediatric haematologist, treating children with leukaemia from Manchester, Liverpool, the North West of England and beyond.
“Over the past 25 years that I have worked in paediatric haematology, results for kids with leukaemia have improved greatly. Most kids are cured. But most is not enough.”
“In these last few years, new drugs, transplant and cell treatments have become available with an
increasing number available with each passing month, developed by companies, in universities, and in laboratories.”
“These new treatments need to be tested in trials (which is an expensive process) with their role
defined. Only this way will we turn most into all.”
“I ask myself that every day,” he chuckled when asked about why he had selected to ride the Tour de France route.
“That course is designed to break professional cyclists… But I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t trying to raise both funds for the charity and for this purpose, but also to raise awareness of it. We need to finish this and cure all kids with cancer and save lives.”
Dame Laura was astonished by the feat Rob is set to carry out from June into July. “What he is doing is absolutely amazing,” she says.
“The Tour de France is pretty insane, right? Even for me, who rides a bike every single day, that is not
a small task, trust me. It’s incredible what he’s doing.”
Later in the afternoon, event host Ian Stafford of The Sporting Club held a Q&A session with Dame Laura and interviewed Rob as well as former England footballer Geoff Thomas MBE, new British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton and Lancashire cricket captain Keaton Jennings with many other esteemed sporting figures in attendance.
Dame Laura was belatedly bestowed The Bidlake Memorial Prize, a prestigious award that recognises special achievements in cycling won by the likes of Sir Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish MBE and Sir Bradley Wiggins.