Dickson Minto targets Morocco – on a bike

Scottish private equity heavyweight Dickson Minto has turned charity fundraiser, with a hugely successful London to Paris ride now heading for North Africa.

Earlier this morning (7 April) Dickson Minto partner Douglas Armstrong and friends Campbell McDermid and Douglas Anderson cycled off from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, heading south. The self-styled ‘Fat Dads on Bikes’ are four days and some 280 miles into a 2,200 mile journey from London to Morocco, with the aim of raising £100,000 for charity.

fat dads

Over the weekend the Fat Dads invited some 70 colleagues, clients – and The Lawyer – to ride the first three days of their journey with them. The route took us through the early-morning City traffic, over the Kent downs to Dover; from Calais through rolling French fields to Amiens; and finally from Amiens into Paris, past the Arc de Triomphe to the finish point at the Eiffel Tower. Ability ranged from very fit to “I didn’t really train” and bikes from top-of-the-range carbon speed machines to a tandem. 

The London to Morocco ride was conceived by Armstrong, Anderson and McDermid last year to raise funds for a number of charities. As a way of raising money for several good causes at once, they came up with the idea of creating their own charity which could then share out the money donated. The Moston Care Foundation, registered in Scotland, was the result – although Armstrong admits that the bureaucratic hoops needed to set it up were tougher than he had thought.

The money raised will go to charities including Maggies Cancer Care Centres, Childrens Hospice Association Scotland, Carers Trust, Cancer Research UK and Education for All Morocco. By the end of the London to Paris weekend the Fat Dads and friends had collectively raised about £85,000, putting the ambitious target tantalisingly close.

The trio also donated their bodies to science, undertaking a nutrional and fitness study with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to see what the preparation for the ride did to a “normal” body. The training was successful enough that the title ‘Fat Dads’ no longer really applies, and all three report major changes to their fitness over the past 12 months.

While the same could not be said for the group of lawyers, journalists and other professionals who joined the Fat Dads last weekend, the euphoria of being out in a large group on bikes drove unprepared bodies over some pretty big hills and a lot of miles. Those who had never done any group cycling found that joining a peleton and slip-streaming in someone else’s wake made the distance fly by, while the quiet country roads meant riding two abreast and chatting was perfectly possible. Some of the Dickson Minto lawyers who had done training rides amid the sleet and winds of a Scottish winter also noted that riding in the sunshine was an unexpected pleasure.

Punctures were mercifully few and a few mechanical failures swiftly dealt with by the excellent support team, and really there was nothing to worry about apart from the next climb ahead.

matt on a bike
Matt Byrne

Highlights included bowling along smooth French tarmac on a warm Saturday, with the prospect of eclairs at the feed stops; the joy of a descent at 30mph after a slog up (yet another) hill; and of course the last leg into Paris itself. 

As the Fat Dads set off again this morning, with the mountains of the Pyrénées awaiting them at the end of the week, the rest of us headed back to the office – just a bit fitter than last week, and still filled with the euphoria of success.

The Lawyer’s team of Matt Byrne, Hannah Gannagé-Stewart and Joanne Harris would like to thank all those who sponsored their ride – fundraising is ongoing, via The Lawyer’s page here or the Fat Dads’ here.