Jon’s nephew, Michael, was just 23 when he was struck by a car and killed in October 2021 while out with friends. A devastating loss to the whole family, Jon knew he wanted to honour Michael’s memory by raising funds to support a charity. He chose to take on the 100-mile Ride London/Essex event in support of HOLG.
The event is on Sunday 29th May.
“Michael had just left university in Sheffield when he died. He’d studied chemical engineering and was on the third round of interviews for his dream job. He had some clear ideas and ambitions for himself.
“I’d best describe him as an absolute pleasure to hang out with. He had such love and understanding for people. He was really patient too, particularly with my boys when they were young – he was a teen at the time so you wouldn’t necessarily expect that but he was always so gentle and empathetic.
“His funeral was extremely tough. To see a room full of so many young people was very hard. But they were a really lovely, mixed group who had so many stories to tell. He got involved in so many things and was clearly important to a lot of people. Anyone who spent any time at all with Michael will be missing him in some way.
“I’ve been full of admiration for Michael’s mum – my sister – Anna, his dad, Chris, and sister, Lucy, 21. It’s been a rollercoaster for them but they’ve been amazing. They have dark moments but they really wear their hearts on their sleeves and share the pain and the smiles. They’ve found lots of help through friends and support groups, such as The Compassionate Friends. Chris and Anna try to keep themselves busy and part of that has involved immersing themselves in fundraising in Michael’s memory. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that too and support a charity in his name, and I chose HOLG alongside The Compassionate Friends.
“My connection to HOLG predates Michael’s death. Around 4 or 5 years ago, the father of a friend of my son, Teagan, died suddenly. We didn’t know the family well but I know Teagan’s mum got in touch with HOLG and found them hugely supportive. I remember thinking, ‘what an amazing charity’ and checking them out.
“When my brother-in-law died, leaving 2 young children, HOLG was front of mind and his wife, Gayle reached out to them. They were, again, super helpful.
“Sadly, my father and father-in-law also died. The grandchildren in the family have therefore experienced multiple close deaths which has been quite impacting to say the least. While my two boys, Jay, 11 and Charlie, 14, did not engage with external support, I’d learnt a few things from my connection to HOLG about language to use when speaking with them, which helped me.
“So having been connected to HOLG, it just felt right to support them. And being a Kent charity was important too, to keep it local.
“I’m taking part in the ride with Anna, Chris and their friend, Laura. I’m used to riding but none of them are cyclists. My role is as something of a chaperone – to offer support and advice on things such as what and when to eat and drink – but I think really, they just want me on hand as their mechanic!
“Even though I used to compete in triathlons and I still ride a fair bit, I won’t pretend it won’t be a challenge to complete the 100 miles – I think we may need the full allocation of time that’s allowed!
“We recently cycled from Rainham to Whitstable and back again together. I spent a good deal of the trip thinking about what had brought us together on the road that day, about Michael. It was a long day out in the sun, but everyone was still smiling at the end. We’re going to do a final training ride of around 130km before the event.
“It’s been positive, and fun, for us to do something like this together. It’s allowed me to spend more time with my sister, which I feel is such a privilege. And it stops us all from just sitting in a room together and realising who isn’t there.
“People at work are supporting me – I’m getting better at being shameless about asking for sponsorship! I also coach youth football and the parents there have been generous with their encouragement. My son, Charlie’s rugby club have also been very supportive and even posted about it on their Instagram account. I find it really comforting, the more people that know about it. Even just a few kind words from a stranger helps so much. It helps you progress, in a way.
“So, the fundraising is going really well. I started with a target of £250 but I knew I could do better than that – so I increased it to £500, then £750, then £1,000 and now I’m up to around £1,100. I’m really chuffed, it’ll do a lot of good.
“We know HOLG is there if ever we need them. People die all the time but we don’t always talk about it. Even if you don’t need HOLG now, you might in the future. People have said to me they think it’s a cracking little charity. If that can percolate around groups, even if it’s people I’ll never know, that’s a great feeling.”
If you’d like to donate, please visit Jon’s fundraising page https://ridelondon.enthuse.com/pf/jon-begg
In the photo:
Jon is at the back, with family friend Laura in front on the left, with Michael’s parents Anna and Chris.