Ooh La La! Henley duo to ride penny farthings to Paris

  • WATCH: ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor has been to meet Matt and Bill

Two friends are planning to ride from Henley-on-Thames to Paris on penny farthings.

Matt Richardson and Bill Pollard, both 57 year-old ex-rowers, will ride the bicycles which were popular in the 1870s and 1880s in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

They will start from Henley Town Hall and the journey to the Eiffel Tower in Paris will take them five days.

Matt and Bill will ride from Henley to Newhaven, where they'll take a ferry to Dieppe in France and then on to Paris.

  • Drone footage courtesy of Richard Pinches

Matt said: "I have been raising money for cancer related charities for a long time. My father died of cancer in 1999 and two years ago, I was diagnosed with the same cancer at the same age.

"I'm now cancer free and Macmillan were instrumental in my treatment and also my recovery and so I'm raising funds for them."

In 2016, Matt's friends including Bill organised a learn-to-ride-penny-farthings session for Matt's 50th birthday.

He loved the experience and resolved to buy one at some point.

  • Matt Richardson, ex-national rowing champion

Seven years later, having survived his recent cancer and related treatment, he bought a penny farthing and began riding it in October 2023.

Bill bought a penny farthing shortly afterwards and the pair began riding the country lanes around Henley-on-Thames.

They were so amazed at the positive reaction of everyone they encountered, they decided to harness this and plan a ride from Henley to Paris.

Their target is to raise £50,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and more than £11,000 has already been raised.

Matt and Bill can be seen riding their penny farthings around Henley-on-Thames in preparation for their challenge

Bill said: "The French will love the absurdity. We've actually cycled to Paris before on 1930s bikes and they couldn't get enough of them.

"They'll be amazed by the penny farthings I'm sure and it will just confirm all the stereotypes they have about the English!"

Matt and Bill will leave from Henley Town Hall at 9am on Saturday 8 June and are expected to arrive at the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Thursday 13 June.

Visit their fundraising page here.

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