Ben Monro-Davies, Editor of Sky News Sunrise, has taken part in the Dash every year since it began:
"Back at work after Dash number 7 and I can’t quite believe that an event I have been involved with (modestly) from the start has grown into a million pound annual charity bonanza.
I remember Krishnan Gurumurthy in 2012 saying he wanted to do something on the challenge front to help our friend Emily Crossley. Her son Eli had just been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His first suggestion was L’Etape – where the organisers of the Tour de France open one of the mountain stages to amateurs. As a long standing observer of Krish’s unique exercise routine I issued an immediate veto. Altruism should not result in death. But colleague Martin Collett – an avid cyclist – said London to Paris in 24 hours was doable with a bit of training – and a team was formed.
I didn’t think much of it and in June 2013 a group of 30 set off from Channel 4 Headquarters. Our support vehicle was a van driven by someone’s dad. There were two groups – one fast, one slow. I recall cold porridge and stopping at random restaurants for a baguette. The highlight was Krish having a flaming row with his brother about the best route into Paris. Or something anyway. We were all very tired. We did it, it was great and I assumed that was that.
For the June 2019 Dash there were 160 of us, a highly organised and slightly scary support team who shout a lot, and a fleet of accompanying vehicles and motorbikes. The gala dinner is in a reception suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower. One group of cyclists carry on afterwards to Biarritz. And we raise a million pounds.
Over the years I’ve ridden with most of my school friends, the former head of HM Treasury and this year Toby Fox, who has a magazine specialising in cycle friendly architecture. Nothing, it seems, is too niche. One year I ended up in a hotel room with the head of Sky News, John Ryley. He is now my boss. I have become familiar with the glamour of the Newhaven-Dieppe overnight ferry. I am surely one of the few Englishmen ever to stay in the justifiably little celebrated Hotel St Aubin in Gourney-en-Bray. This year I spent much of the ride in the slip stream of Duchenne UK co-founder Alex Johnson. She moaned all the way, will never do it again, but raised 25k. And Krishnan once again provided the champagne moment – completing the Duchenne Dash on an e-bike, a true first that only he would dare to pull off.
Every year offers a new, often bad, but somehow worth it, memory.I will be there again next year. It’s too much fun to miss. I don’t especially like cycling – the trip back from Paris on the Eurostar is far more enjoyable. But by accident it has become a fixture in my calendar. Join us – and help raise money for disease that can only be cured through charitable giving. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy won’t be beaten by anyone else. And who knows – you could be joining something that will become even bigger."
Ben Monro-Davies, Editor, Sunrise on Sky News, @benm_d
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disease diagnosed in childhood. Children born with DMD cannot produce the protein dystrophin which is vital for muscle strength and function. Muscle weakness starts in early childhood. Many use a wheelchair by around the age of 12. As deterioration continues it leads to paralysis and early death, often in their 20s. It almost exclusively affects boys. There is no treatment or cure. In the UK there are around 2,500 boys affected and around 300, 000 worldwide. It is classified as a rare disease.
Duchenne UK is a lean, ambitious and highly focused charity with a clear vision: to fund and accelerate treatments and a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The charity has been formed by the coming together of Joining Jack and Duchenne Children's Trust, the two biggest funders of research in the UK in the last three years. Its president is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Its patrons include the broadcasters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Mary Nightingale, and the sports stars Owen Farrell, Kris Radlinski and Andy Farrell.
For more information visit www.duchenneuk.org