FACT Patrons Saddle Up for Football Tour of Tameside
Monday 19th October 2015 @ 13:02 by Tom Greggan

Patrons of the Families of Autistic Children Together charity took to the saddle for a bike ride round all of Tameside’s football grounds recently.

The 21-strong group also rode to Glossop North End as well as both Manchester clubs with all proceeds raised going to FACT.

Dallas Whittle, the founder of FACT, was the brains behind the idea. He said: “Normally we do a Manchester to Blackpool bike but this year that was the day after the gala ball so obviously, with people having a drink and that they’re not really going to do it. But all the lads still wanted to do it so I thought, I’ll invent something, what can we do?

“I thought, well we’re a Tameside charity, why don’t we go to all the Tameside grounds but there wasn’t enough mileage in it so we ended up going to Glossop and City and United as well. All the lads are now saying, ‘Why can’t we do it as an annual one?’”

The ride set off from the Railway Inn in Droylsden who have been supporting FACT this year. Dallas said: “We started off at the pub because they’ve sponsored us for the year; they do fundraising throughout the year so we thought it’d be a nice touch to go from there and finish there.”

Landlady Cheryl Miller laid on a buffet for the riders and her husband Pete took part in the cycle. A raffle in the pub on the day also raised a further £60. Asked why she chose to sponsor FACT, Cheryl said: “We sponsor a different charity every year and one of my customers asked me if we’d support FACT this year.

“It’s sad that there’s a lot of autistic children and every charity needs some form of funding so I’m glad it was brought to my attention. I’ve just learnt that someone in the family has had a child diagnosed with autism so that’s another reason.”

As well as helping the riders on the day, Cheryl also held a burlesque night at the Railway Inn, which raised £1302 for FACT, although it was a little outside her comfort zone! She said, “For me, I did it because my husband did the Full Monty last year, I was very uncomfortable but the other girls loved it so I stood at the end and did my bit!

“It was a brilliant night, it went down really well which helped bring people in because I sold tickets and the proceeds from all the tickets went to charity.”

FACT was set up in 2010 by Dallas Whittle and his wife Tracey after they realised there was a lack of facilities for their 13-year-old son Louis. Dallas said: “There wasn’t really a lot about. His autism is quite severe so a lot of the clubs we couldn’t really go to. So we decided to set it up ourselves, for all autistic kids.

“I’ve been on a course in America learning about autism. Obviously we don’t know everything but you learn a lot being a father to a kid with autism and learning with the specialists. So we set it up in 2010 as a registered charity and it’s just gone from strength to strength. I reckon we’ve got about 150 families now on our books.”

The exact figure raised for the bike ride is still being counted with sponsorship continuing to pour in. If you’d like to add a donation, visit https://www.justgiving.com/f-a-c-t/.