Andy Henderson - Volunteer Group Secretary, Ride and Event Organiser

Andy Henderson of Portsmouth CTC works tirelessly to promote cycling
Andy Henderson, Secretary of Portsmouth
Andy Henderson, Secretary of Portsmouth

Andy Henderson - Volunteer Group Secretary, Ride and Event Organiser

Andy Henderson, a retired IT consultant and developer, is a real local hero. He devotes a lot of his free time to promoting cycling in the Portsmouth area, as well as supporting national initiatives such as RideLondon as a mechanic. Here he describes how and why he became a volunteer in cycling and what he gets out of it.

Full name, area you live in and name of group or activity you support

Andy Henderson. I stopped work as an IT consultant and developer several years ago, but continue to support a number of not-for-profit organisations. I live in West Town, Hayling Island.

I am Secretary of Portsmouth CTC – an active Member Group, and a part of Cycling UK with a very long history.

In addition, I:

What made you decide to volunteer your skills with Cycling UK?

After stopping work, I started riding with Portsmouth CTC having done no distance cycling, no hills and very little on the road. I found a welcome from a lively, friendly group that offers a wide range of cycling opportunities in a very pleasant (and occasionally demanding) part of the world. I gained new friends, and a satisfying hobby that was good for my health.

After being given so much, I wanted to give something back. I am also keen to introduce new people to cycling.

How much time are you able to commit?

Not an easy question to answer. While I was initially developing Portsmouth CTC’s new website, I devoted almost all the time I wasn’t cycling! These days, I typically spend about eight hours a week on various activities – not including rides.

What roles do you perform as a volunteer?

  • Secretary and registration officer for the club;
  • Creation and management of the club’s website;
  • As website editor, creation of content and support to other authors;
  • Author of a weekly ‘update’ email to members;
  • One of the two organisers of our easy rides;
  • Other rides as a ride leader;
  • Occasional bike mechanic;
  • Organiser of some of our non-cycling activities;
  • RideLondon Dr Biker and marshal.

What is the greatest challenge you have encountered?

My first decent hill, my first day ride, my first 100 km, my first 100 miles. The biggest, though, was probably one of our annual Bob Kemp Memorial Rides: 120+ mile round trip to Salisbury starting at 5am and coming back in very heavy, unexpected rain!

Describe a typical day in your volunteer role.

Like most others, I suspect, there really isn’t a typical day. My most routine activity is monitoring my inbox for emails from members, prospective members and people wanting to contact us.

It's hard to describe how proud I feel to see people achieve something they never thought possible, especially the final, gold ride.  It’s also a great way for anyone in the club to get involved in helping new riders into cycling distances and hills.

Andy Henderson, volunteer Secretary and ride organiser for Portsmouth CTC

Of all the tasks you have helped with, what are you most proud of?

For the last two years, we’ve run the Cathedral Challenge. It’s a series of rides that starts just after Easter and continues through to the summer. The first rides are short and flat. From there, they progress in length and difficulty through to the final challenge: a hilly ride from Havant to Winchester Cathedral and back. That’s the gold challenge. We also have an intermediate bronze challenge: Portsmouth Cathedral and back; and a silver challenge: Chichester Cathedral and back. This year, there were 16 rides in the series, averaging over 15 riders per ride and involving 65 participants and support riders. The youngest was 12, the oldest 85.

It's hard to describe how proud I feel to see people achieve something they never thought possible, especially the final, gold ride. It’s also a great way for anyone in the club to get involved in helping new riders into cycling distances and hills.

What did you get out of the experience?

Achievements that I didn’t think possible beforehand. Satisfaction at being a part of such a rich history for the club, and Cycling UK as a whole. Many new friends and acquaintances. A hobby that keeps me healthy and active – especially having stopped work. An outlet for creativity.

Has it enhanced your passion for cycling and have you had the chance to get out more on your bike?

For me it was the other way around. It was the time I spent cycling that led me into helping with running the club.

Could you describe your volunteering experience in three words?

Uplifting. Involving, Worth-it (sorry, cheated a bit).

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with Cycling UK?

Cycling is a great opportunity to meet and overcome new challenges. The Cycling UK Member Groups offer friendship, support and good company to all-comers. Over the club’s long history it has relied on voluntary effort from some big names, and many thousands of the less well-known. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Find out more about becoming a volunteer

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