Published: 00:01, 11 September 2016
A top barrister broke the world record for the fastest cycle ride from London to Paris – just hours after finding out his late father’s house had been gutted by fire.
Jonathan Parker, of Albany Drive, Herne Bay, was only told about the devastating blaze in Winston Gardens, Beltinge, as he prepared to set off on the record attempt.
The father-of-one, 42, decided to continue with the challenge and reached the Eiffel Tower 12-and-a-half hours after setting off from Greenwich at the break of dawn.
Mr Parker said: “I had a phone call at midnight about the house, but I had to leave at 3am.
“I made a point of not going up to the house before I set off because there was nothing I could do at the time.
“It is heart-wrenching as we have lost so much personal stuff – there is nothing left inside.”
The fire, which broke out at about 11.15pm on Saturday, August 27, was believed to have been accidentally caused by a pot of candle wax.
Mr Parker’s elder brother had been staying at the home, but no one was injured in the blaze.
Mr Parker added: “We had family silverware there and all of the family photos were gathered in the house.
“I feel like I have lost all of my family history – it is absolutely gutting.
“We can repair the inside, but we had family heirlooms and personal possessions there.”
Despite hearing news of the incident, Mr Parker set off from Greenwich at 5.15am before arriving in Paris 12 hours, 31 minutes and 26 seconds later.
The effort, though not yet officially confirmed, is thought to be a world record.
Mr Parker, who took on the challenge in aid of the Cyclists Fighting Cancer charity, lost his father to the disease in February and had previously lost his mother and two uncles to cancer.
His task was made even tougher after he plunged three floors through a roof and broke all his limbs 10 years ago.
Mr Parker added: “I am really chuffed with the time we did it in and the amount of money we raised.
“The target was to do it in 15 hours, so to do it in 12 was marvellous.
“We thought we had done it in 13.5 hours but it was actually 12.5 – I could not be happier.”
After leaving London, Mr Parker pedalled about 60 miles to Newhaven, before boarding the ferry to Dieppe.
Once the ferry docked, Mr Parker cycled 110 miles to the Eiffel Tower.
The total time for the record was measured from start to finish and included checking in, boarding, and the ferry crossing.
Mr Parker – who averaged a speed of 25.3mph – said: “There was a strong head wind most of the way and 30 degree temperatures.
“They were bad conditions – rain and wind in the other direction would have been fine, but the weather we had was tough.
“Considering the conditions, it all worked out better than I could have hoped for.”
More by this authorDan Wright