Top music publisher from Sussex gets on his bike to raise £15,000 against deadly heart condition

A high-flying music publisher from Sussex has raised more than £15,000 with a charity bike ride to help fund research into a serious genetic heart condition.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 10:09 am

John Minch, 64, who lives in Piltdown with his wife Kate, is Concord Music’s president of publishing for Europe and the chief executive of Boosey & Hawkes.

Before the Covid pandemic hit, the businessman said he did virtually no exercise, but on Thursday (September 16) he completed a gruelling cycle ride from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London to Brighton seafront.

So far, his Virgin Money Giving fundraiser has raised £15,797 (with Gift Aid) for the Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy Trust (ACT) and people still have time to donate.

John Minch.

“There were six friends who volunteered to come with me,” said John, adding that it took about two hours to get out of London.

“We got lost twice and we had some sort of bike navigation system, which kept turning us round and round in circles,” he added.

However, John said that once they were out of he capital they knew what they were doing, taking the smaller, safer roads away from the M25, so they could enjoy their ride on a ‘perfect autumn day’.

John said that the route – an alternative to this Sunday’s London to Brighton Cycle Ride – went to Coulsdon, heading through the Farthing Downs and North Downs countryside before crossing the M25 at Nutfield.

John Minch (centre left) and the cycling team with professor Perry Elliott from University College London who is in charge of one of the projects ACT is funding.

After a quick stop at Bletchingley, the riders continued to Copthorne and Turners Hill, cycling past Worth School and the Cowdray Arms into Cuckfield.

From there, they went to Hurstpierpoint and Poynings, riding over the South Downs and Devil’s Dyke into Brighton.

“It was just marvellous,” said John, adding that the route showed them Sussex ‘at its absolute best’.

But he said the South Downs (and North Downs) were particularly tough with the Devil’s Dyke section being ‘pretty hideous’.

John Minch (centre with bottle) celebrating a successful bike ride with the other cyclists. Picture: Kate Minch.

“Two of us needed to push their bikes up the steep hill but thankfully I was not one of them,” he said.

One of their highlights was stopping at The Ginger Fox near Poynings – “a fantastic pub” – for energy drinks before they continued.

“We didn’t go up Ditchling Beacon,” said John.

“I just thought that would be dangerous with the road open and we would be going up at about three miles per hour,” he said.

John Minch (second from right) and the cycling team.

John reckons the journey took about six hours, with five hours of actual cycling, and he said he felt a huge sense of accomplishment afterwards.

“I’d never done anything like that at all, it was terrific,” he said.

“We went to a restaurant on the beach front and we were largely knackered but it was a great feeling to finish.”

John went on to say that he was not an active person until the first lockdown in March 2020.

“My main exercise was just walking from my car to the train,” he said, adding that Covid restrictions ended his regular commute and forced him to work from home.

“I found myself just stuck in a room staring at a computer and I thought ‘this way madness lies’,” he said.

So John found a bike that he never used in the back of his garage and took it out on the empty roads.

“I went out for about 20 minutes and it was all in granny gear,” he said, adding that his tyres blew out almost immediately because the bike had not been used for so long.

But he purchased a newer bike from Halfords and kept at it, building his strength and riding for longer distances.

“A great benefit of the whole Covid lockdown experience is that most days I’ll go out on my bike round the Ashdown Forest and realise what a lovely area we live in,” he said.

“I’ll give myself a couple of weeks off now and then I’ll carry on doing it,” said John.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve enjoyed being fit.”

John said he chose to raise money for ACT because it supports research into the diagnosis and treatment of Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition that affected his own son.

He said that James Minch, who set up the charity and is now 31 years old, collapsed with the condition when he was 16 and has had an internal pacemaker and a defibrillator ever since.

“Sadly most studies into this condition are about death and a lot of money raised is about grieving and how to deal with parental guilt,” said John.

“But what is not studied very much is the genetics that actually lie behind the condition,” he added.

The ACT website said Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy causes cells in the heart muscle to become damaged and develop deposits of fat and scar tissue.

The trust said: “An affected heart often cannot pump blood around the body properly when the muscle is put under stress, for example during exercise.

“The condition is a principal cause of sudden death in young people, many of whom would previously have been regarded as fit and healthy.”