Durham to London in 24 hours: £100,000 final push for RFH organ

- 2 July 2013

The final £100,000 required to complete the Southbank Centre’s Pull Out All the Stops campaign to restore the Festival Hall’s organ could be raised later this month as the Southbank Centre’s chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, and a team of friends perform a 266-mile, 24-hour sponsored cycle from Durham to London.

Haythornthwaite and five friends will ride to the Festival Hall from the workshop of organ builders Harrison & Harrison, carrying with them one of the final pipes to be installed in the organ. The peloton will set off at 12 noon on 20 July.

Reinstallation of the final third of the organ begins on 19 July, the final stage in a £2.3m process. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded £950,000 towards the project in 2010, with more than £1.2m having been raised from the public.

Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy said the ride would be ‘a real challenge’ for Haythornthwaite and his team and wished them ‘all the very best for the ride and raising the final funds’.

The Southbank’s chief executive, Alan Bishop, called the challenge ‘an incredible feat’: ‘It is so wonderful that we have a chairman that is willing to push himself in this way in order to help us with such a worthy cause!’

The organ will be fully tuned and completed in time for the Pull Out All The Stops Organ Festival, starting on 18 March 2014 in the instrument’s 60th anniversary year.

Feat of endurance: Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of the Southbank Centre, will cycle from Durham to London in 24 hours, starting at noon on 20 July

‘The organ is the heart and soul of this magnificent place,’ says Haythornthwaite, ‘and it needs to be completed.

‘We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their generous grant and for the extraordinary response we’ve received from the public to this fundraising appeal. As a result we just need to close that final gap with £100,000 left to raise.

‘Cycling the 266 miles from Durham to London in 24 hours will be a difficult task, but the restoration and fundraising appeal are both enormous challenges too, so it is fitting that we finish it off with an equally difficult trial!’

Haythornthwaite’s teammates are personal trainer James Cash, Golf Entertainment International chief executve Rick Grogan, James Helliwell of lawyers Locke Lord LLP, Nick Sharpe, European Head of Product Control MF Global (‘the distance is by far and away the furthest I’ve ever cycled,’ he says), and Simon Thompson, managing partner at marketing agency Relish.

Information on how to sponsor the team can be found at

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