Mark Ritchie has worked in the print industry for over 30 years. The last 10 years he has worked within the inkjet sector while employed at Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems and more recently at Xaar. He has been involved with InPrint since its inception and has presented at a number of events, including the last InPrint exhibition in Munich. Mark is a father of three grown up children, with one granddaughter and a 20-year long passion for cycling. In this blog we discover his latest challenge to ride a stage of the Tour de France and raise money for a charity very close to his heart.
So Mark, what is it you are doing, sounds challenging?!
Yes I am participating in the Etape du Tour - literally "stage of the Tour" (de France) to raise money for charity. This is an annual cycling event open to approximately 15,000 amateur cyclists where they can ride the stage which is deemed to be the hardest of the whole Tour de France. This year that's the Alpine stage between Megeve and Morzine in France - 146km and 4 mountain passes totalling 3,335m (more than 10,000 feet) of ascent all in the heat of a southern French summer - and takes place on Sunday July 10th.
I am raising money for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund ) which is a charity dedicated to funding research to cure, treat and prevent Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, completely unrelated to lifestyle, and is normally diagnosed at an early age, often pre-teen. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, the immune system – which is meant to protect the body from viruses and bacteria – attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This means that Type 1 diabetics have a life-long dependency on injections for the supply of insulin needed to break down sugars in the bloodstream. Due to the difficulties in managing blood sugar levels precisely according to even slight variations in diet, exercise, and natural body rhythms etc, Type 1 diabetics can be susceptible to long term complications usually related to heart and blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, nerves, gums and feet.
I originally targeted £2500 as my fundraising total - already surpassed, I'm just looking to raise as much as I can for this worthwhile cause.
Why this charity?
This is a very personal journey for me. My wife, Alison, was a Type 1 diabetic from her teenage years, although it was impossible to know unless she told you as she was outwardly full of energy and apparently fit and healthy. However, it was this condition that undoubtedly led to an undiagnosed chronic heart disease which caused a sudden and totally unexpected heart failure, and her too early passing from this world in January 2015.
By raising money for this charity, I want to help find a cure, and to ensure other Type 1 diabetics are given as much assistance as possible to avoid an outcome as painful as the one that my family has suffered.
If you would like to make a donation to support Mark climb those mountains!