As anyone who knows me will testify, I have gone on and on about my bike ride for quite some time. And it has been no different with the comrades ... with the resultant "Oh, will you shut up about your bike ride" or a sarcastic, "Are you doing a bike ride? Why didn’t you tell us?" The butt of many a comrade joke or teasing I may have been over recent weeks but I have always known that they support me in what I am doing and that they totally respect the level of grief that I feel at Julie's tragically premature death. I didn't play Friday footy on the day before I began my ride; I had a chest infection, would you believe, the remnants of which are still dogging me and which has caused me to take things easy during the first week of my ride. But I did head to Bootle last Friday evening, to see the comrades and to say 'bye' before I headed off. And when I got there, I was greeted with a wonderful ‘Good luck’ banner, some excellent advice for how to approach my ride, several lovely presents, and yet more sponsorship money from individuals within the group.
Some of you may know a former Liverpool FC player called Jamie Carragher. Well he plays with his mates each Friday, at the sport centre, after the Bootle Comrades have finished. I am not one for being in ‘awe’ of well-known or famous people – there is too much ‘celebrity’ this day and age for my liking - but I have to say that for someone who has played football for Liverpool and England, Mr. Carragher appears to have remained very down to earth and is extremely patient, and indeed generous, whenever he is asked for a photograph by the many, many youngsters that pass through the sports centre every Friday. Last Friday, the comrades told him what I am up to, he wished me 'good luck' for the ride, and we had a photo taken in front of the magnificent banner that the comrades had made and which now has pride of place in Julie’s sewing room. I travelled home that night with a few tears in my eyes; partly for Julie, as ever, but also because of the kindness, generosity, and humanity, that the Bootle Comrades have shown me during this past 12 months. Julie was very worried about me and how I would cope after she died. I thank the comrades for looking after me; on my behalf and on behalf of Julie Mountford. xx