Tour de Fred! Grandfather to cycle 1,000 miles around country from Manchester – despite not riding bike for 50 years

By Sam Ruffe

A great-grandfather is cycling more than 1,100 miles around the country from Manchester and back to raise money for impoverished farmers in Bangladesh.

Fred Uttley, 68, from Padiham, will represent Catholic aid agency CAFOD as he rides to 22 catholic dioceses across England and Wales.

However his journey – dubbed the ‘Tour de Fred’ – is made even more spectacular by the fact he has not ridden a bike for more than 50 years.

The mammoth task begins on June 9 from Salford Cathedral and will finish at Holy Name church in Manchester three weeks later.

Former plumber Fred, who will be accompanied by Paralympic silver medallist Mark Brown and support driver John Cowell, says the idea behind the event came completely out of the blue.

“It just came to me that we should do a cycle tour to each of the diocese CAFOD serve and try to raise money in the process,” said Fred.

“It’s hard to say about the inspiration.

“In my parish we always raise money for CAFOD by doing certain things each week.

“One was a quiz night and it looked like the quiz night wasn’t going to happen, and I was thinking, what else can we do to raise money?

“That’s when it came to me that we should do the ride – maybe I will regret it!”

While on his journey the married father-of-three will visit 25 schools, churches and cathedrals in more than 30 villages, towns and cities.

And having not ridden a bike for so long, Fred admits training has been challenging and that his family and friends were a little sceptical when he first explained the idea.

“It took them back a bit at first, they were a bit frightened at the beginning because of the accidents that can happen,” he said.

“But I think they have now got used to me out on the bike training and have come round to the idea.

“So far the training is proving hard, and the weather has been terrible at times, but it’s got my fitness up, I was already fit for my age but it has been a bit arduous.”

Fred’s journey coincides with CAFOD’s Hunger for Change campaign which is urging Prime Minister David Cameron to use the UK’s presidency of June’s G8 summit to tackle global food issues.

In the build-up to the June 17 and 18 meeting, members of CAFOD and 200 other development agencies will descend on London for a mass rally.

In what is the largest coalition of its kind since Make Poverty History in 2005, the gathering aims to lobby world leaders to act on world hunger.

Just a day before he sets off, Fred will attend the rally as part of CAFOD’s poverty campaign ‘Enough Food for Everyone….If’.

And Ged Edwards, CAFOD Salford Diocesan Manager, believes that what Fred is set to achieve on his journey should influence people across the country.

“Fred is an inspiration. He’s an ordinary guy who wants to make a difference,” said Ged.

“He feels so strongly that now is the time to make a change on the way something as basic and essential as food is produced and shared on earth.

“Please support Fred and help us to do this!” 

Fred, a keen Burnley FC fan, has volunteered for CAFOD for more than ten years and even represented the organisation on a charity visit to Liberia in 2004.

During his time in West Africa Fred met former World Player of The Year George Weah and presented football kits to rehabilitated child soldiers.

“I was very lucky and appreciative that I could see them looking happy even after what they had been through,” Fred explained.

“They just enjoyed themselves, they love singing, playing and doing what normal children do.

“They were giving me hugs and things like this which for former child soldiers is pretty amazing and I was very lucky.”

You can support the Tour de Fred by sponsoring Fred at

More details and an interactive map are available at or you can follow him on his Twitter account @LeTourdeFred and check for updates on the interactive map.

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