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Poppyscotland takes tough decision to cancel sportive cycling event

One of East Lothian’s best-loved events of the year has become the latest to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Poppyscotland’s Sportive cycling event sees almost 1,000 riders take to the roads of East Lothian and the Borders in September, with many helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the leading Armed Forces charity. However, organisers have taken the agonising decision to cancel the 2020 Sportive.

Gordon Michie, the Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, said:

“This has been a really difficult decision and one we have not taken lightly, but we feel it is the right course of action. There are several key reasons why we have taken this decision, including the ongoing uncertainty regarding mass participation events and when they can safely start again.

“It is imperative that we ensure the safety of our participants, suppliers and volunteers, and we concluded that it would be difficult to keep feeding stations and other facilities at the event clean and managed according to government guidelines. By cancelling the event until next year, we have reduced any potential risk to the communities of East Lothian, the Borders and beyond as it is imperative that we maintain the strong relationships that we have built with them over the past seven years.”

However, Mr Michie added:

“Yes, this is disappointing news for us all, but we already have the date in the diary for next year’s event with the Sportive returning on Sunday, 26th September 2021. We will be back bigger and better than ever, especially given that next year we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Scottish Poppy Appeal.”

Sgt Frank Parisi, a full-time Reservist with Edinburgh’s very own 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, RAF Reserves, is a member of the Poppyscotland Sportive committee, and has taken part in the event several times over the years.

Like many, Frank is disappointed that this year’s event will not go ahead, but he has a poignant message for Poppyscotland supporters and the wider public:

“It was perhaps inevitable that this year’s Poppyscotland Sportive would fall due to the unprecedented pandemic that we are all living through. It will be a great miss for avid cyclists such as myself, but I believe it is important that we keep on doing all that we can to support the country’s Armed Forces community during what may be proving a very tough time for many.

“Vulnerable veterans and their families need Poppyscotland’s support more than ever so as well as keeping their registration in place for the 2021 Sportive, I’d encourage everyone to get involved in some of the virtual events such as the Poppy Cycle Challenge to make sure this special charity can continue to provide their life-changing support during these challenging times.”

Participants in the 2020 Poppyscotland Sportive will have their place in the event transferred automatically to next year’s event, but are welcome to a refund. Poppyscotland is also asking riders if they would consider doing a ‘virtual Sportive’ – known as the “Poppy Cycle Challenge” – as an alternative. Details can be found at https://www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-involved/runs-and-challenges/poppy-cycle/.

This would have been the seventh consecutive year of the Poppyscotland Sportive. It is an event that has already raised more than £250,000 for the organisation’s work in supporting veterans and their families across the country. The Sportive’s lead sponsor is renewable energy firm Fred. Olsen Renewables and the event is also supported by Bramik Foods Ltd, Cirrus Logics and Leith Cycle Co.

Best known for running the iconic Scottish Poppy Appeal, Poppyscotland reaches out to those who have served, those still serving, and their families at times of crisis and need by offering vital, practical advice, assistance and funding. The charity believes that no veteran should live without the prospect of employment, good health and a home, and that we all have part to play in achieving this.

To take part in the 2021 Poppyscotland Sportive, or for more information about the cancellation of this year’s event, please contact Poppyscotland’s Events Team, on 0131 557 2782, or at events@poppyscotland.org.uk, or by visiting www.poppyscotland.org.uk/sportive.

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