In 1997, Marc cycled from his home in Topsham, Devon to Venice, Italy, together with his great friend Nello Ghezzo. Their aim was to raise money for cancer support and research, notably supporting a young and exciting new Exeter charity, Force. The reason for Venice as a destination was because Marc’s mother, who had died a few years earlier from cancer, had lived for many years in Venice, a place we had all visited often and loved. Nello, a chef and restaurateur who had opened Nello’s Ristorante in Topsham in 1990, came originally from Rosalina Mare, a small town on the Venetian lagoon. So the destination had meaning for both of us. The ride was a great adventure and in the process we raised substantial funds for cancer. However, just a year later, Nello succumbed suddenly to the disease and died in 1999. It was a great shock not just to his family and friends, but to our whole community.
The following June, 2000, Kim and I began a memorial 100 mile cycle ride which we called The Nello Century Cycle Challenge. That first year 90 cyclists took part, following one of our favourite training routes that we had rode together when Nello and I were preparing for the cycle to Venice. The route follows the Exe Valley from Topsham up to the roof of Exmoor, crosses the moor, then returns via Crediton and Exeter, a magnificent and challenging hundred miles. June 2021 will see the 22nd Nello take place (though as a ‘virtual’ ride due to the pandemic, and some 1200 cyclists have signed up to take part. The ride has now earned more than £1 million pounds for Force, something we are very proud of.