A former sailor has taken up the challenge of cycling from his hometown to Cherbourg in France and back to raise money for a cancer charity.

The ‘FromMeToYou’ organization is encouraging people to write letters to patients in the UK who are living with the disease.

Frank McNulty cycled from Hythe to Cherbourg to raise money for a cancer charity which he says deserves more recognition

After being at sea for 30 years, Frank McNulty, from Hythe, says he appreciates how important letters can be.

“I’ve spent most of my life at sea, so I know what it’s like to get letters or not get them,” he said.

“I think most people who come to cancer in their 60s are used to this format and it’s a way to connect.

“I know how nice it was for me to receive letters and how nice it was to have a friend send you a little something.”

The 54-year-old says it’s important that people with cancer who are going through a difficult time receive this kind of support, as sailors can adapt to any situation.

After being at sea for 30 years, Mr McNulty said he understood the value of letters
After being at sea for 30 years, Mr McNulty said he understood the value of letters

“Cancer is a universal thing, it doesn’t discriminate, and it can take very young lives as well as older lives,” he said.

“People back off when they hear the news and don’t want to be a burden on their friends.”

He added that he wanted the charity to be better recognized and he thinks founder Alison Hitchcock did a great thing in coming up with the idea.

“Alison knows people in the situation, so she decided to do something about it,” he said.

FromMeToYou was launched in 2017 after Ms Hitchcock sent letters to her friend Brian Greenley who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Brian and Alison founded the charity in 2017 after Alison started writing letters to Brian throughout his cancer treatment.  Image: FromMeToYou Charity
Brian and Alison founded the charity in 2017 after Alison began writing letters to Brian throughout his cancer treatment. Image: FromMeToYou Charity

“I just didn’t know what to say or what to do, so I made this really weird, random offer to write him letters throughout his treatment,” she said.

“It was the first of hundreds of letters.

“I discovered a love of writing and we became very good friends.”

After telling their story to the BBC, the couple were inspired to start the charity.

“You don’t have to be intrusive, you can just send a letter to keep that connection going,” she said.

The anonymous letter writing charity aims to help people with cancer feel connected to others and distract themselves from their illness.  Image: FromMeToYou Charity
The anonymous letter writing charity aims to help people with cancer feel connected to others and distract themselves from their illness. Image: FromMeToYou Charity

“We have started a letter giving scheme where people across the UK write letters which are given to cancer patients.

“This year we will probably deliver around 10,000 letters.”

The writers of the letters do not know to whom they are writing and there is no obligation for the cancer patient to respond.

It is simply a matter of distracting themselves from their disease. and keep a connection.

“The beauty of our charity is that we often don’t know people’s stories,” Ms Hitchcock said.

“Frank started writing us letters and then started donating to us.

“Then he told me he would cycle to Cherbourg to raise funds for us.

“Often the people who support our charity have been touched in some way by cancer and therefore understand the loneliness it can bring.”

Mr McNulty left for the ride at 6.30am on August 10 and returned on August 13. He raised a total of £260 for his efforts.