Southbank Centre chairman cycles from Durham to London to raise funds for Royal Festival Hall organ

Route starts in home town of organ makers Harrison and Harrison Ltd, who made the RFH instrument

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Chairman of the Southbank Centre, Rick Haythornthwaite, and a team of supporters will cycle the 266 miles from Durham to London on 20 July to raise money for the Royal Festival Hall Pull Out All the Stops organ campaign. Only £100,000 of the total £2.3 million is still required to restore the organ.

The team will have 24 hours to complete the journey from Durham-based Harrison and Harrison Ltd – the company who made the original organ and is overseeing its refurbishment – to the organ’s home on London’s Southbank.

Six-time Olympic Champion, Sir Chris Hoy, has lent his support to the feat, wishing the riders ‘all the very best for the ride and raising the final funds needed to restore the Royal Festival Hall Organ’. The team will burn well over 11,000 calories and ascend more than 4,300 feet over the course of the cycle. 

The campaign received £950,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010 to finance the concluding stage of the restoration, in which 5000 pipes will be reinstalled. Public donations also raised the sum of £1.2 million.

Mr Haythornthwaite said ‘cycling the 266 miles from Durham to London in 24 hours will be a difficult task, but the restoration and fundraising appeal are both enormous challenges too, so it is fitting that we finish it off with an equally difficult trial!’.

Neil Smith