Two self-confessed “overweight, unfit, old and inexperienced cyclists” set off from Gordon’s School in West End for a 580-mile heart-shaped cycle route over 19 days.

Paul and Karen Smith were waved off by family and friends after a countdown from actor Brian Blessed OBE and the mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Pat Tedder. 

The two have undertaken the ‘Wonky Heart Challenge’ to mark the tenth anniversary of their son Harry’s suicide at the age of 17. 

Harry, a student at Gordon’s, took his own life while holidaying with his parents in France, after receiving a disappointing set of AS-level results.

Paul and Karen said: “Not a day goes by when we don’t think about him. However, time has now helped to make us strong enough to do something positive in his memory.

“We want to raise awareness about young people’s mental health, as well as money for both Suicide and Co and Papyrus to help all those in need of support.”

They chose to set off on their cycle ride across England and Wales, in a journey that resembles a wonky heart, in the week that A-level results were received by students. 

Even before setting off, the couple had exceed their target of £17, 400 and set a new one for £25,000. 

Their aim was also to increase awareness about mental health in the young and encourage those receiving their A-level and GCSE results to talk about their feelings and emotions.

Among those waving off Paul and Karen were parents of former students from Gordon’s and staff, including those who had taught him. 

Gordon’s School commemorated Harry’s life by dedicating a bench in the Chapel Garden to him and plaques in the rose garden and outside his former house. 

Current students have requested funds be raised for Papyrus and this year it is one of three charities to benefit from charitable giving at the school.

Headmaster Andrew Moss said: “Harry is very much remembered by the Gordon’s community and we were delighted to be able to wave off his parents as they embark on this incredible challenge to both fundraise for these important charities as well as raise awareness. We all wish them the best of luck.”

For further information on the ride, which is due to finish tomorrow (Saturday, September 2) and to make a donation, see