Charity chairman's cycling challenge

Howard Lake | 5 March 2008 | News

The chairman of a national charity for people with learning disabilities, HFT, will cycle over 1,000 miles across the UK this May to raise money for the charity’s work in providing support for over a thousand people with a wide variety of learning disabilities, including Downs Syndrome, Autism and Challenging Behaviour.
Richard Barber OBE, from Kingston-upon-Thames, is marking his first year as chairman of HFT by tackling the bicycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the HFT “From End to End” challenge.
A former director of British Steel and the Corus Group, Richard will be riding together with three friends from his days at Oxford University. All four are in their mid-sixties and while Richard is riding solely for HFT the other three will also be supporting their own chosen charities.
The cyclists hope to complete their challenge within three weeks, from 17th May to 7th June, riding on average 50 – 60 miles a day to cover the 1,050 mile journey.
“The idea originally emerged as a joint attempt to deny our advancing years”, said Richard. “For me it is a unique way to mark my first year of chairmanship of HFT by raising funds towards its work in supporting people with learning disabilities.”
“There have been days when I have thought it ludicrous to venture so far when I have seldom ridden my bike more than a half a mile into Kingston, but I am really driven by the desire to raise funds for HFT’s wonderful work for so many people with learning disabilities. Training is proceeding apace and on average I am now cycling 10 miles four times a week. We will be building up to longer rides at weekends and hope to complete at least two 50 mile rides on successive days before the end of April.”
He has been given generous support by Halfords, the UK’s leading cycle and leisure solutions retailer, who have donated one of their top-of-the-range touring bikes to him after hearing about HFT and the “End to End” project.
Richard, who is now retired, became chairman of HFT in October 2007, He lives in Kingston with his wife Judy, and they have two grown up children and two grandchildren.
His association with HFT goes back nearly 43 years when his sister, Lucinda, became one of the first girls to be supported by the charity in 1964 as a resident of its first home at Frocester in Gloucestershire.
Inspired by the level of care and support provided by HFT for Lucinda, Richard became a Trustee of the charity and has worked tirelessly to support its work for people with learning disabilities.
Today HFT provides services for over 1,000 people in supported living, registered care homes, advocacy, supported employment and day services throughout the country. The charity also runs a Family Carer Support Service which provides support each year for 4,000 family carers of adults with learning disabilities.
Donations can be made to support Richard’s HFT “From End to End” challenge via the Just giving website on