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Dad bikes to every lighthouse in mainland UK for late wife’s charity

He said the journey is keeping his wife's legacy alive.

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Matthew Sturgeon. (Rebekah Merriman via SWNS)

By Douglas Whitbread via SWNS

A bike-mad dad-of-two is peddling his way to every lighthouse in mainland Britain in a bid to raise thousands for his late wife’s charity after she died of cancer.

Matthew Sturgeon, 55, has cycled 2,349 miles and climbed 89,000 ft on his bicycle while hunting down weird and wonderful coastal beacons across the country.

He's asking supporters to sponsor him 25p per lighthouse as he looks to bag all 185 in Britain.

And so far, he's raised more than £6,200 ($7,620) for charity A Bit of a Break, set up by his late wife Angela to offer vacations to people living with a terminal illness.

Matthew said the epic trip helped keep his wife, who died at 50 in December 2016, in his “mind’s eye” after making it to his 100th lighthouse last Saturday.

Barns Nees Dunbar photographed by Matthew Sturgeon on his bicycle tour of lighthouses. (Matthew Sturgeon via SWNS)
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He said: “Angela’s diagnosis was pretty poor from the moment we found out really, but she made the most of her time.

"This is to keep up her legacy and keep her in our mind’s eye.

“The whole point is to cover the whole coastline of mainland Britain, but I’m not doing it in any particular order.

“People give me 25p per lighthouse. That gives me a way of monetizing it, but it also gives me a focus, something to aim for, and it gives the whole ride an identity.

“The lighthouses are so varied. The red and white Happisburgh lighthouse in Norfolk is a classic, but lots of them are different and interesting buildings."

Architect Matthew, of Ilkley, West Yorks., first set out on his adventure on June 29, 2018, hoping it would take him roughly two years.

But four years on, he’s still undertaking trips - sometimes lasting days at a time - while accompanied by his new partner, mom-of-three Jane Dacombe.

Matthew Sturgeon at Glasson dock on his bicycle tour of lighthouses. (Matthew Sturgeon via SWNS)

The pair has so far conquered lighthouses across the British coastline, in counties including Yorkshire, Norfolk, Lancashire, Sussex and Pembrokeshire.

And Matthew said it was “brilliant” to make it to his 100th beacon last weekend with eight other riders, despite being “way off” his original timescale.

He said: “It’s way off schedule, really, but it was brilliant to get to it. It was the most beautiful ride, it was such a crystal clear stunning day.

“There were ten of us, and we had a really lovely crew of people. Jane, my partner, made limoncello, and we raised a glass by the hundredth lighthouse.”

Matthew said his favorite lighthouse had been Ardnamurchan, in Scotland, while also giving an honorable mention to Glasson Dock Lighthouse, in Lancaster.

But he said several of those he’d visited required some intrepid cycling, such as when he was forced to traipse around the edge of a nuclear power station.

He said: “Ardnamurchan, which is on the tip of Scotland, is just a stunning place and a beautiful lighthouse.

"It’s the most westerly point of mainland Britain. It’s more west than Cornwall, bizarrely.

“There’s also one near, Glasson, Lancaster, where they’ve actually cut off the top of the lighthouse.

“It’s just a tiny beautiful structure. It looks like it’s out of Greece.

“At Heysham, you have to get round the security fence, it’s all legal, by the nuclear power station. It’s tucked behind it. That was an interesting one.

Matthew Sturgeon's late wife Angela. (Matthew Sturgeon via SWNS)

“There’s one up in South Shields where the sea defense wall goes a mile and a half out, and it was pitch black when we got there, and we had to cycle out into the sea."

Matthew said when Angela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, aged just 45, she began undertaking cycling challenges to raise funds for charities.

And in 2015, she founded A Bit of a Break, which offers people receiving cancer treatment the chance to go on self-catering vacations for free in the UK.

Matthew said: “Most holiday houses are left 75% of the time and the rest they are left dormant. The idea is that the charity uses them 25% of the time.

“We pay the owner for the cleaning, maintenance and administration of that week. But we don’t pay them any money for the hire of the place – they gift us that.

“We’ve got a whole network of people through hospices and hospitals, and we say to them: 'Would you like to go to the lake district for a week free of charge?'"

Matthew said he had set aside some time in the coming months to visit further lighthouses in Scotland with Jane, while also venturing down to Cornwall.

Visit here to donate to Matthew's fundraising efforts.

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