Article of the week: Moving up a gear

24 July 2021

FEATURE | Fundraising

Major Lorraine Chaundy (Peterborough Citadel) writes about her wellbeing cycle challenge

The past year and a half of living through a pandemic has been challenging enough, so you might wonder why on earth I gave myself an extra challenge. I chose to raise funds for two wellbeing projects at our corps by cycling 250 miles during June.

I was aware that some people could cover this distance in a weekend. But this was my challenge. I am a beginner cyclist, overweight, unfit and slowly recovering from contracting Covid-19.

I have a full-time workload as a corps officer and a family to take care of. More honest than that, I have not really paid enough time and attention to myself and become unhappy with how I look and consequently feel. Losing weight and feeling better about myself felt like a losing battle, until last summer when I shifted my thinking and took up cycling.

At the start I was cycling slowly and with much embarrassment, but I kept telling myself something positive to keep going. I had some stumbling blocks, which included being taken into hospital with stroke symptoms (it turned out not to be a stroke, but it was scary), a gynae diagnosis, contracting Covid-19 in December and my bike being stolen from our garage. However, I kept going, and before June I had built up to between seven and twelve miles per ride.

During my challenge I cycled on 15 out of the 30 days of June, totalling 300 miles. My longest ride was 31 miles and my fitness app, Strava, told me I was a ‘local legend’ six times! I cycled mainly alone, but also enjoyed rides with my husband, Gary, my father on his electrically assisted bike (both pictured above) and a lovely lady from our corps.

At the beginning of the month I had to talk myself into going out most times, but now I frequently look forward to it. After a ride I always feel better in myself for doing it – and I have lost 10lb in two months, which is a surprising bonus.

I learnt several lessons: it is best to change the gears in a helpful direction, not worry about speed, not worry about what I look like, go out even when I don’t feel like it because I know I will feel better afterwards – and just keep pedalling. I’ve also learnt that no one else looks after my health and fitness, just me. If I’m to be the best I can be in all the roles in which I serve other people, I must keep fit and not feel guilty about taking time to do so.

I understand the daily battle that some people can have with their thoughts and feelings. I have grown to understand that our feelings can lie to us, and that it is helpful to remember some truths: even if I don’t feel like going out on my bike it is still good for me; and I may not feel loved, especially by other road users, but I am loved, and ultimately loved by God.

At the start of 2021 our corps leadership team penned three focus headlines for the year. The first was ‘commit to journeying with people who need healing, support or assistance’. This meant that ‘all areas of the corps need to actively be open to being “with” not simply doing something “for” others’. In other words, ‘journeying with the community as a community’.

All our leadership teams used the headlines to create a Mission Development Plan. The Community Services team decided to explore two wellbeing projects – a craft group and a gardening group – and to contact local NHS social prescribers to see if they would refer people to them. They loved it and all the local social prescribers have patients in mind to come to these groups starting in September. The idea is that we come alongside people who need to get better in terms of their mental health in some way.

The craft and gardening groups will be small and safe environments where we create something by hand together and simply be with each other – journeying to recovery in a slow-paced activity and in a caring, Christian environment. At Peterborough Citadel we feel God’s hand is on these wellbeing projects and we can’t wait to see them begin and evolve.

My June cycling challenge raised £1,240 via JustGiving for the start-up costs of the groups’ items. The plans are going well, leaders are in place and we look forward to ‘being with’ others and experiencing the fruit of this ministry.


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