When it comes to being unlucky, some might say that Hans De Vrind fits the bill. He doesn’t see it that way. Hans has had testicular cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, leukaemia, and a brain haemorrhage — but has beaten them all.
As well as battling his illnesses, he has been fighting other people’s. Hans has been raising money for Saint Francis Hospice for 35 years.
In June, Hans’ latest challenge saw him embark on a London to Amsterdam bike ride with 70 fellow cyclists. Hans’ ride started wobbly — quite literally. While cycling to Dover to catch a ferry to Calais at breathtaking speed, Hans took a tumble over his handlebars and landed head first into a brick wall.
Hans, more worried about this broken bike than his bloodied body, had to be dragged to the hospital after insisting that he was okay to carry on.
After numerous X-rays, the hospital cleaned him up and ordered that he would not go anywhere near a bike for at least a month. “You’ve got to be joking!” was Hans’ response.
After much negotiating, he and the doctor came to a compromise: Hans could have his bike repaired, as long as he didn’t cycle for the first 50 miles of the trip.
Hans travelled to Belgium in the truck designated to follow the troop of cyclists, feeling cross that he wasn’t allowed to ride his bike. He was eventually allowed back in the saddle, raising £600 for the Hospice.
At 71 years old and five life-threatening illnesses later, you might expect Hans to be winding down a little. Not on your nelly. “Why can’t you just do normal things like a normal person?” his wife always asks.
Next up: a five-day trek across the Sahara in November. With temperatures fluctuating between below freezing at night and over 40 degrees Celsius during the day, it’s going to be quite a challenge — but the team at Saint Francis Hospice expect nothing else from their courageous Dutchman.
You can find out about the many ways you can support Saint Francis here. With only 27% of our annual running costs provided by the NHS, the Hospice simply wouldn’t be here without you.
With thanks to Hans’ sponsors, Kilnbridge Construction, and the London to Amsterdam organiser, Skyline Events.