Andrew Ware is reflecting on the very different cycling traditions of Britain and France. "I do quite like the thought of cycling in France," he says. "We are not appreciated in this country for cycling on the roads – we 'get in everyone's way' and that sort of thing whereas in France you do get much more respect for being on the road."
Ware will experience this more respectful French attitude for himself this summer but it will not be on some gentle cycling holiday through vineyards or lavender fields but instead on a gruelling London to Paris bike ride. The 43-year-old is a keen amateur cyclist though, as he admits, this five-day challenge, from 29 July to 2 August, will test him like nothing before.
"The most I've done was a Help for Heroes ride a few years ago which was from Salisbury to London. I've done nothing of this magnitude. This is 300 miles – 80 miles a day for three days, and then one day at 60. I've been out for the last two months doing 50–60 miles a week but have to up that now to 100 miles a week. I didn't realise the extent of the training but I am enjoying it."
For Ware, the ride to the base of the Eiffel Tower is the latest in a series of fundraising efforts for the northwest-based charity Nugent Care and his target is to raise £1,000. "It is hard because I asked people last year when I abseiled down the Anglican Cathedral and did the Liverpool-Chester bike ride for Nugent," he explains. He did the abseil with a work colleague, Karen Reilly, from Hayes and Finch, the Liverpool-based supplier of church furnishings which has chosen Nugent Care as its charity partner for this year.
As a director of Hayes and Finch, Ware has seen for himself over the past 12 months the impressive, wide-ranging work that Nugent Care does in the community. He cites the example of the Epsom Street Play Centre in Kirkdale, to which the staff of Hayes and Finch delivered Easter eggs this spring. "It is just so rewarding to see what they do. It is all about the community spirit and making sure the kids are looked after with a safe place to go each day. The council had it as a community centre and Nugent Care have taken over and it gives kids a place to go before and after school. It is somewhere so close to home but the kids there don't have a lot."
Ware, a parishioner at St Monica's, Bootle, has been at Hayes and Finch since 1989, starting out as an 18-year-old cabinet maker. "I've moved all around the business since," he adds, citing a series of roles that led to his appointment as a director in 2006. It is intriguing to hear that his 26 years' service is small beer in a company established in Liverpool in 1882. "I'm one of the babies really – a lot have been here 30 or 40 years," he says, and their factory in Aintree, the company's home since the late 1960s, sounds an appealingly old-fashioned place for its 72 employees to work.
"We think our factory is quite unique," he continues. "We are just trying to do our best to keep people employed and to manufacture as much as possible. We took a guy on who wanted to make things in wood but didn't have the skills so we put him through college to make sure he had the skills that he needed to become a cabinet maker."
Hayes and Finch manufactures everything from chalices to lecterns via vestments, though he adds: "The main items are communion wine, altar bread and candles. We offer a huge choice. We supply every diocese in the UK and in Ireland." And after all that, he still finds time to get on his bike.
To sponsor Andrew Ware, visit: www.virginmoneygiving.com/andyware