Family hits the road in memory of Tom

Tom McClelland
Tom McClelland

The family of a local businessman who died two years ago from a lung condition, this week embarked on a gruelling five-day bikeathon.

Monday (August 24) saw Tom McClelland’s children Matthew, James and Sara, along with three of his nephews, don their suits for a 425-mile ride to raise funds to combat lung disease.

Dundrod man Tom, a keen cycling campaigner, died 20 months ago, at the age of 64, from the rare lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

His son James explained why family members have unertaken the event, which they named ‘Cycling Suits NI.’

“Dad had so much energy and enthusiasm for everything he did,” he said.

“It was very difficult for us to watch such a strong character being slowly weakened by his lung condition.

“Cycling round Northern Ireland will be nowhere near as tough as the ordeal he had to endure, but we have been inspired by his strength in the face of adversity.

“We hope that the money we raise will contribute to the fight against lung disease and help the excellent work of the British Lung Foundation.”

Tom’s daughter Sara added: “Dad cycled to work and to meetings as often as possible.

“As he was an estate agent, he wore a suit when he was on his bike.

“Cycling to work is becoming more common, but dad was doing it well before it became popular, and he became well-known for cycling in his office-wear.

“He was one of the earliest advocates of ‘utility cycling’ in Northern Ireland.

“On one memorable occasion, he and mum even cycled very stylishly on a tandem to a garden party at Hillsborough – wearing a suit and dress, of course.”

The six ‘Cycling Suits NI’ intend to pedal right round the perimeter of Northern Ireland. The cycle ride got underway on Monday from Tom’s former place of work, McClelland Salter, which he co-founded and managed.

The family’s first ‘pit stop’ was McClelland House in Belfast, the new headquarters of the Ulster Wildlife Trust, named in tribute to Tom’s tireless work for the charity.

The ‘Cycling Suits NI’ initiative has already raised more than £4,000.

Nessie Blair, Service Development Manager for British Lung Foundation Northern Ireland, said, “IPF isn’t well known, but it has a huge impact in Northern Ireland.

“Around 100 people will be diagnosed with the condition in the province this year.”

To make a donation, go to the Virgin Money Giving website and search for ‘Cycling Suits NI’.

You can also go to Facebook and Twitter.