We are delighted that Alison Anderson is the Alex Flynn Award winner of 2017! Following her diagnosis with Parkinson's, Alison was determined to move forward with optimism - so she took on an awesome and inspiring challenge...

The Cyclopaths - Alison is standing centre.

The Cyclopaths reach Cambodia! (Alison is standing centre back)

Alison Anderson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 46. Although devastated initially, she was determined to move forward in a positive way. Inspired by a meeting with the late Tom Isaacs, President and Co-founder of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), Alison decided to embark upon an ambitious cycle challenge. She gathered together an awesome team of fellow cyclists with her at the helm to cycle 500km from Vietnam to Cambodia, raising funds and awareness for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT). We, of course, are delighted to announce that Alison is the recipient of the 2017 Alex Flynn Award!

Following her diagnosis, Alison found hope and support from others in a similar situation. Her introduction to CPT and fellow person with Parkinson’s (PwP) Tom Isaacs made a lasting impression, and provided her with optimism and a real sense of hope for the future. “His positivity, humour and all that he had achieved made me realise that with the right attitude there is no limit to what we can do,” she recalls. Undeterred by her condition and motivated by the benefits of exercise for those living with Parkinson’s, Alison decided to take on the huge cycling challenge in support of CPT.

Alison's team of fifteen others, mostly non-cyclists, and known as ‘The Cyclopaths’ dedicated themselves to ten months of rigorous training in preparation for the 500km route which lay ahead, taking them from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Ankor Wat in Cambodia.

Cycling up to 90 kilometres per day in the unrelenting humidity of Southeast Asia, through dirt track roads and untrodden paths is no mean feat for even the most seasoned of cyclists. Yet, The Cyclopaths completed the challenge with unyielding enthusiasm. Their route took them along the Mekong Delta, to the Khmer capital of Phnom Penh and on to Siem Reap and finally on to the famous World Heritage site of Angkor Wat. “I loved every single minute of it” says Alison. “We saw the real Cambodia and Vietnam, far away from the tourist routes. It was physically demanding and time consuming but we had so much fun. We became a fantastic team and we all shared and gained something from this wonderful experience.”

In addition to this incredible challenge, the group also spent months raising funds through a variety of other means, from coffee mornings and cake sales to concerts, barn dances and fashion shows. Alison and her team raised more than £42,000 for CPT, exceeding their initial target by over £7,000. We are so grateful to Alison and all our fundraisers who give their time to support our work.

Alison is an inspiration. She is an adventurer in the way she designed and undertook the Cyclopath’s challenge whilst raising such significant funds for CPT, but she is also a phenomenal advocate for Parkinson’s research, informed and insightful. She is a mentor to others with Parkinson’s and is greatly respected and admired for her empathy, knowledge, understanding and encouragement.

Helen Matthews, Deputy CEO, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

In the run up to the challenge and throughout her journey, Alison recorded the team’s adventure in a blog. Despite never having used social media before, Alison garnered the support of hundreds of followers, creating a real focus around the event and further raising awareness of the cause. “It took me out of my comfort zone but was great fun. All the team contributed their own perspectives and stories to the blog and it’s a wonderful record of our team challenge from concept to completion.”

Not only did Alison’s adventure raise a huge amount of funds and awareness for CPT, but her story has gone on to provide hope and inspiration to so many others. We are pleased to report that The Cyclopaths will continue cycling their way through 2018, with a new adventure from Land’s End to John O’Groats currently being planned!

One of The Cyclopath bake sales

The Cyclopaths coffee morning - Alison is seated left above.

Read about all the wonderful runners up for the award...