The Faces behind the scene

The Event is organised annually by a dedicated team of volunteer members of The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge Steering Group. Someone thought it would be a good idea to introduce them – so here they are!

Meet the Team

Paul Loftus MBE

President of the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge

Originally from the hotbed of cycling that is West Yorkshire, my first club was Keighley St Christophers CCC, but I moved on to help re-form the Bronte Wheeler’s. During this time, I raced road TT and Cyclo-Cross but also ran the fells with Bingley Harriers. I moved to the Lake District in 1979, maintaining all the YHA buildings in the Lakes. I joined the Lakes Road Club and there met Fred Whitton. I rode a lot of club miles and enjoyed quite a few social times with Fred. Fred’s baby was The Lakes Three Day road race, and we all helped out with it.
Following Fred’s untimely passing a small group of us organised and rode the first Fred Whitton ride in 1999, the Lake Road Club’s tribute to its most popular leader.
I am now working with the best team ever to ensure the continuation of the Fred Whitton Challenge.

Josh O' Boyle

Event Manager

I organise sports events for a living, I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge for the last four years (minus a year off to ride it!). I work with Lofty to plan the event in the run-up and sit in event control on the day, drink tea and make sure things run smoothly. Previously I’ve worked on professional races including the Tour de France Grand Depart 2014, Tour de Yorkshire and 2019 UCI Road Cycling World Championships, plus a whole host of other sportives.

The Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge remains my favourite sportive in the UK I have been part of and is certainly the toughest day in the saddle I have ever had!

Carl Ballantyne

Route & Traffic Management / Steering Group Member

I joined the Lakes Road Club in 1987 and it was Fred Whitton that ran the club at the time, he encouraged me to race and occasionally get over the line with my hands in the air! I took over Fred’s post at the club when he died and when Paul Loftus suggested we ride over all the passes in the lakes to raise a bit of cash for the McMillan nurses that had looked after Fred I thought it was a great idea. I rode the first one with Paul, then every year after that until a few years ago when I started to coordinate the Health and Safety on the site or drive the route on the morning to check the course and supply the marshals with food and drink.

Carolyn Brown

Grasmere Manager / Steering Group Member

I have been married 25 years to Jon (who is also a long-standing helper at the Fred Whitton) with two children, I’m a Finance and Office Manager at Astec Precision where I’ve worked for over 14 years. My hobbies include road cycling with the Lakes Road Club and coaching at Furness Flyers children’s cycling club, plus many more cycling-related events.  I have volunteered at the Fred for the last ten years and currently sit as a member of the steering group, run the Event social media accounts and manage parts of the Grasmere venue on event day!

Chris Gill

Mountain Rescue / Steering Group Member

As a member Duddon and Furness Mountain Rescue Team, for the last few years, I have been assisting in event control. The team has people positioned on the Kirkstone, Hardknott and Wrynose passes, and the Fred Witton challenge has generously supported us over the years.  Hopefully, you will see the team members on these passes, but be sure to keep things under control so you don’t need their services!

I used to work with Fred Whitton many years ago, and I still remember Lofty asking me about doing the ride in the early days. I managed to avoid it at first but have since ridden it five times and marshalled a few times on the course. It is a great event to be involved in and apart from the money raised it gives so many people a fantastic and memorable day out.

Steve Sim

Feed Station Manager / Steering Group Member

I’ve never been a keen cyclist but I’ve been with the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge from day one. I’m a retired health worker and a serving magistrate, I also love my allotment which I attend whilst the wife Lynne (Whitton) is out on her bike when the weather is fine!

We supervise the first feed stop at Buttermere and it’s a day we look forward to each year along with the buildup to the event. We started feeding less than a hundred riders and now it’s 2500, it couldn’t be done without our great team of about 18 people and our friends in Buttermere YHA who start on the Saturday and finish on the Sunday. I knew Fred and his wife Lynne and was only too happy to become a part of the Fred Whitton Challenge all those years ago.

Paddy Gannon

Mountain Rescue / Steering Group Member

I like many kinds of cycling from mountain biking to road cycling and even dabble in cycle touring. I have done the Fred several times and enjoyed every single one of them. I’m in the Duddon and Furness Mountain Team, help out on the Steering Group and on event day staff the control room with Chris and Josh at Grasmere. 

Nigel Lanaghan

Route Manager / Steering Group Member

I look after the route for the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge each year, despite announcing retirement every year! We look after every climb, every summit, every dodgy descent, corner, cattle grid, junction, warning sign and feed station. Catching all the waifs and strays, banged up bikes and ‘should have done more training’ comments. For years offering free rider advice on whether to get in the van or not and waiting for that last rider to safely cross the finish line. I rode the first Fred event and four other Fred’s after that!

Rob Spencer

Steering Group Member

Fred Whitton was a friend of mine and he encouraged me to join Lakes Road Club which I did and have been a member for many years, I am now the current chairman and a regular on club rides. I’m also a keen mountain biker and skier. I sit on the steering group of the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge and help make decisions to keep the event on track and one of the best in the UK!

Graham Servante

Accounting / Steering Group Member

I’m a happily retired accountant/company director and I look after the slightly boring but necessary tax, financials and company secretarial stuff for the Fred.  I’m a trustee for a couple of other charities and am quite an unaccomplished cyclist (yet to complete the Fred). I was roped in to help by being in the wrong pub at the wrong time!

Lynne Whitton

Feed Station Manager / Steering Group Member

Hello, I’m Lynne and the widow of Fred whose life we all work so hard to celebrate and put the riders through their enduring pain as they ride the event through a world heritage site. Along with my husband Steve, we supervise the Buttermere feed stop along with everything else that we as a group provide at this YHA site. I am a retired ambulance worker and still a keen cyclist (in fair weather) and these days I am electrically assisted when I ride. I feel so privileged that we have the event which celebrates Fred’s life, organised by his friends and those that love what we do. The event gives so much back to the community in which he lived and I’ve gathered up so many fab memories and new friends along the way, it’s still a sad time for me but an extremely positive one too.

Paul Whitton

Merchandise Manager / Steering Group Member

Fred was my dad, and I was brought up riding with him in the Lakes Road Club. I raced with a large group of junior riders that had been encouraged by Fred and The Lakes Road Club to race on the road, in the South Lakes area.

I served my time, as Fred had done as an engineer in the Barrow shipyard building the Trident submarines, and now work in the nuclear industry. I’ve ridden and helped on the challenge for a number of years, and now look after all merchandising for the event.

Alastair Boston

Braithwaite Manager

I got into riding my bike more due to a long-term fell running injury. Always loved being out and about in the lakes with my hobbies and work, completed The Fred a couple of times and next thing I know Lofty MBE asked me if I could give him a hand sorting the marshals out. I did that for a few years and now help out each year across the planning where I can and at Braithwaite each year during the event

Jon Brown

Start Manager / Steering Group Member

I’ve been a member of the lakes road club for over 20 years, and I’ve been helping out with the Fred for the past 14 years. I help with the rider registration and sending them on their way at the start, and welcoming them back after a fun day out in all kinds of weather.
I’ve ridden the Fred on a few occasions now. The atmosphere around the course is fantastic, from riders through to spectators.
As the newest member of the steering group we hope we can continue to bring such a great event to you for years to come.


The Unsung Heroes of the Fred Whitton Challenge

As many of you know the primary purpose of the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge, aside from remembering Fred and giving people an amazing ride out in the Lakes, is to raise as much money for charity as we can year on year. Because of this, we really hugely on volunteers to help us out on the route and at Grasmere. This is an opportunity for us at the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge team to say thanks to the 200 route volunteers and endless volunteers at Grasmere, you are the unsung heroes of the event! Please keep offering up your help, we will always welcome the phrase ‘I’m here to volunteer, what do you want me on with!’ at Grasmere.

Friends of the Fred

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Want to get involved?

It takes over 350 registered volunteers to keep the Wheelbase Fred Whitton Challenge going. If you’d like to help out at the event jobs for volunteers vary depending on location, time of day and skills. Please register your interest before the event. All volunteers are guaranteed a place on the following years' ride.

Or you can donate to any of our chosen charities. All donations are well received and go to helping fund these fantastic services in the community.