Burma, Beards and Bike Rides

A father’s campaign to help people effected by substance misuse leads him to Asia

 “I’m a Devon lad, with Irish parents, Scottish roots and a bit of a thing for Big Macs. How on earth did I let myself be talked into travelling to Burma and cycling through jungles and mountains?!”

Last Sunday, surrounded by his friends and family, Malcolm Mccready watched as a year’s worth of beard growth fell to the floor. It is a happy, intimate moment, as his brother-in-law and cycling buddy Colin, gives him a close shave. But this is more than just a routine groom. Malcolm has been growing his beard for charity since the death of his son Nathon, over a year ago. Nathon died alone from a drugs overdose and the reality of that situation has been very hard for Malcolm and his closely knit family to accept. In the first few months after Nathon’s death in May 2018, Malcolm’s beard took centre stage in a fundraising initiative which raised over £1000 for the charity that tried to help his son, EDP Drug & Alcohol Services. Now, as he prepares for a bigger and better challenge, the beard has to come off. 

“Growing my beard was the very first step in turning Nathon’s death around into something positive” said Malcolm.

“Now I have a bigger focus. That focus is Burma and the fundraising target is £27,000. That’s £1000 for each year of Nathon’s precious life. People have been amazing and donated so much but I have to keep going until I reach my target and I’m still a way off. Nathon meant the world to me and I know that there are many thousands of people and families effected by issues surrounding alcohol and drug problems. There is help for people from charities like EDP and I’m cycling into towns to talk to people about the help on offer. I’d be so grateful if people could show support. No town is free of this problem and we have to help people going through it. We cannot bury our heads in the sand any more”.

Malcolm has become more involved with the work of EDP, the charity that is benefitting from his fundraising. EDP is known as Together in Devon and Reach in Dorset and Malcolm has seen first-hand how it turns lives around. He has met volunteers and staff who have overcome their problems and now do amazing work for EDP. 

His bike ride starts in Burma’s capital Mandalay, before he rides east through hot dry lowlands, passing small villages, teak plantations and rice paddies, culminating in the long winding road into the cooler jungle-clad hills. This bike ride is going to take him well out of his comfort zone physically, mentally, and emotionally. Malcolm will be riding alongside his brother-in-law Colin who came up with the idea of the Burma charity cycle ride in the first place.

“We needed to help Malcolm process Nathon’s death” said Colin. “Training for this massive ride has helped to get Malcolm out of the house, focusing on something other than his grief and enabling him to enjoy the countryside around South Devon where he lives. We are wearing T shirts that advertise 27000 Reasons for Nathon and Nathon’s face is smiling out at us on both the front and back of our t-shirts. Seeing money donated from strangers that we have stopped and spoken to has been so humbling. We reached the £6000 mark last weekend following an appearance on Radio Devon, but we would really love to make it over £10,000 before we leave.

Malcolm has a Justgiving fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Malcolm-McCready. If you or a family member is struggling with an alcohol or drug problem, call Together (EDP’s Devon service) for free on 0800 233 5444. Together Drug & Alcohol Service is a Devon County Council commissioned service provided by EDP Drug & Alcohol Services and supported by the Devon Together Alliance.

All photos courtesy of Mike Alsford www.mikealsford.com

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