19 Mar 2016
A 69-year-old cyclist touring England visited older people from a care home and two retirement properties in Teeside so they could sign a 90th birthday card for the Queen.
Terry Keen, from Surrey, first popped into Anchor’s Cumbria Lodge in Bishop Auckland on Thursday (17 March).
Residents lined the entrance to the properties to cheer on Terry after completing the latest leg of his 1,400-mile journey across England.
As well as collecting more than an estimated 3,000 signatures on the specially-designed birthday card, charity cyclist Terry hopes people will make donations to charity Grandparent Plus.
The charity has revealed there are 1,570 children in County Durham and 660 children in Stockton-on-Tees being raised by grandparents and other family members because their parents are unable to do so, often as a result of difficult family circumstances.
Terry is visiting 90 properties run by Anchor whose Patron is the Queen’s Cousin, Princess Alexandra. He will next travel to Ripon before making his way to York, Birmingham, London and reaching Helston in Cornwall on 9 May. He will then travel to London to hand in the card to Buckingham Palace.
Leading the welcoming party at Sundell Court was 92-year-old tenants Philip Oates, who is the longest tenant, Freda Turnbull, who was in RAF, and Len Mcguire, who was stationed in India during the Second World War.
A belly dancer also provided entertainment during the welcome party.
Freda said the tenants wanted to attend the welcome party for Terry as it was an impressive challenge he was undertaking.
She said: “It’s really something that Terry is travelling around the whole of England to bring this birthday card for us to sign. It means so much to us because we think very highly of her Majesty.”
Pensioner Terry, whose wife, Jacquie, remains at home in Surrey while he completes this tour, said he had been touched with the welcome he had received at all the properties he had visited.
Terry, who has been on the road since 14 March, said: “It has been very tiring cycling all this way and I have many more miles to go but knowing it’s for a good cause and the cheers I’ve received at different Anchor care homes and retirement properties has really spurred me on.
“I really admire the Queen for all her hard work and for being such a wonderful ambassador for the country. I wanted to give something special to her on her 90th birthday so thought why not a birthday card signed by older people from across the country.
“The Queen and I are both grandparents so it seemed relevant to raise money for Grandparents Plus which is such a worthwhile charity.
“The card is also a good way for older people across the country to feel part of this national celebration – not many other people will have signed a birthday card that has travelled around England and will be read by the Queen!”
Lucy Peake, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus, said: “It’s heart-warming that Terry is supporting our work.
“Grandparents and other family members who step in to raise children, in often very difficult circumstances, are repeatedly forgotten within society and by the government. The money that Terry and all the Anchor events, taking place across the country, raise will enable us to reach more grandparent and family carers and ensure they receive the support they need.”