Charity bike ride raises $700,000 for outback mental health

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Discovering the suicide rate for men in the bush is three times higher than coastal counterparts, spurred Friendly Society Private Hospital Board Chair Les Hancock into action.

Mr Hancock joined forces with his wife Shelley and son Damian to create the RideWest charity cycling event to raise funds for The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).

So far their efforts have raised $700,000 to support the RFDS in its primary health care role in the area of mental health in the outback.

Started in 2010 the ride has taken in Brisbane to Longreach and one from Longreach to Tenant Creek.

Mrs Hancock has been the event manager for all five rides, while Les and Damian rode in all rides – a total of more than 6000km

“In our most recent ride in May this year, we had 22 riders who raised in excess of $210,000 for the seven-day event,” Mr Hancock said.

Mr Hancock is now keen to use his experience to bring a similar charity cycling event closer to home.

“I have been a board member at The Friendlies for 15 years and the chair for the past 12 months and one of the most exciting things we have been able to do is launch The Friendlies Foundation,” he said.

“We are going to use our RideWest experience to establish a three-day, fully supported ride for about 60 cyclists over the May Day long weekend in 2017.

“The ride will begin and end in Bundaberg, but take in the beautiful region west of here to areas like Biggenden, Gayndah and Mt Perry.”

Mr Hancock said the aim of the charity ride about be to raise $100,000 for The Friendlies Foundation, to go towards expanding the cardiology services offered at The Friendlies.

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