Ben's Mystery Cycle Tour

1 Ben, 1 bike, 1 tent & 6 weeks for Mental Health Research UK because uncle Joe is our hero.

Any of you who know Benjamin James Woods (a.k.a Our Ben) nephew of the late Joseph B. Crilly, will know that he is a veteran cycler of epic 6-week journeys. Quietly and modestly accepting no praise or admiration for his daring feats.

This time, however, his pushy big sis (that’s me) has talked him into letting me do a charity fundraise under the condition that he would have nothing to do with this social media malarky, but agreed to send me pics along the way. Those pics will be passed on to you lovely folks through here with permission from Ben to fundraise in memory of Joseph B. Crilly for Mental Health Research UK.

So here we have it. Off he goes on yet another epic 6-week bike trip. Destination: a mystery. (He wants to surprise a mate. *Shhh anyone who knows.) A mystery prize will be given to anyone who guesses the mystery destination- when he gets there of course.

My brother's sponsored 6 week cycle is in memory of our uncle who took his own life in May. We have had a history of mental health issues in the family and support the mission of MHRUK to fund more research into the underlying causes of mental health conditions. So far, we have raised over £1000 for Mental Health Research UK through our Just Giving page.

My cousin and I are now also planning a charity pub quiz for 8th September and we would like to donate the proceeds to your cause.

Our uncle was a published playwright, actor and journalist. (Please see some links below)

The title of the quiz is a pun derived from the title of one of his plays "Kitty and Damnation" first performed in 2009. We chose the title in honour of his work and because it reflects the dark humour of his writing style and are aware that this style may not be appropriate in all situations.

In the last 10 years of his life, he initiated and funded a volunteer scheme through the Peabody Trust in London. 

The following post is one of dozens posted on his facebook page after he died:

Sam Wajid‎ to Joseph B. Crilly

June, 2014. I had time to visit an old guy once a week and have a cup of tea and watch some TV on my way home from work. Some guy called Mr Crilly at the charity would do the interview to make sure I was kosher and introduce me. I got on well enough with the old bloke and still go round once a week and watch the Avengers with him in his flat

The Crilly dude wanted to meet up now and then: volunteers need to feel appreciated or they drift off. He seemed pretty cool: soft-spoken, a dry wit, his own man.

And so, when I hit a rough patch in my own life, I took my courage in my hands and told him. I was quietly falling apart – single, jobless, with most of my friends moving out of town. I simply wasn’t his job. He was well within his rights to pat me on the shoulder, tell me he was sure things would look up soon and then bolt for the door. Instead, he said that he’d be happy to have a drink with me now and then and let me unload.

And I did. Over a pint, we shared histories and I told him I wrote the odd thing and posted it on the net. Casually, he mentioned that he’d written the odd thing himself. That’s how modest he was. If I was a published playwright, I’d have it tattooed on my forehead. He gave me “Kitty and Damnation” and “Second Hand Thunder” and I was bowled over by the dark wit and energy.

He never even mentioned the acting, the theatre work, the TV and film appearances. I only found out about them when I started scanning the internet after he left our lives. To me, he was Joe, the charity guy, who unaccountably had time to spare for a near-stranger.

We’d have drinks at the Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe, and then see an art house film with Hilary at Sands Cinema, round the corner. At that point in my life, those nights were the high point of my life. I’m not sure what would have happened if he hadn’t made time for me. Nothing good.

In passing, he revealed just how many people he’d looked after: as a couchsurfing host, he’d let dozens of young backpackers stay at his place over the years. God knows how many people he picked up and dusted down and mended over the years.

I am not sure when I started thinking of him as a friend: but there was never anything in his face that said “this guy’s a charity case”. He always managed to look as if I was someone he wanted to see. I relaxed. He’d always be around. And of course, he will be. I’ll still be chatting to him, years from now. So will we all.

It’s still in my calendar: Drink with Joe, Friday 2nd June. Sorry you couldn’t make it, Buddy.

His sister/my mother suffered acutely from schizophrenia and also took her own life in 1993. He acted as a guide and mentor to my two brothers and I while growing up and certainly was very aware of the dangers of mental health issues. Since his passing he has been described by friends as 'the wounded healer'- someone who helped everyone , but didn't know how to accept it. 

It is clear that more is known about mental health than before- but not enough. It is for precisely these reasons that we support your cause into uncovering exactly how mental illness manifests itself, diagnose the underlying causes and develop effective treatments for the future.



Ben has reached his target and arrived at his mystery destination-Lisbon

We hope to raise even more from the quiz.

Raffle prizes donated so far include:

The lyric are giving 2 tickets to one of their shows The MAC have donated a family ticket to their Christmas show Tinderbox are donating a bundle of scripts Biancore are donating a table and drinks in Sixty six Macau Asian Restaurant have donated a meal voucher. And Sunsation have donated a sunbed voucher.

The Vineyard have donated a magnum of champagne The Errigle have donated finger food, a room with a DJ and a meal voucher.

We opted to distribute the flyers without sponsor logos because we are still hoping for more donations and didn't want to hold off on the advertising.

The play 'Kitty & Damnation" was performed in London in his memory last weekend. The actors asked for a donation to MHRUK and raised £335 towards the cause, which went a long way to help us reach the target.

This is my favourite part:

Also there will be a gathering in his memory at Vauxhall Gardens, London, close to where Joe lived next Saturday. It was an area where he was exceptionally well known as a man of compassion who visited and cared for the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged. “He was a sort of freelance carer until he joined the Peabody Trust when he eventually got paid for it,” said his brother Kevin. “He used to organise coach trips home for some of the elderly Irish men who had went to London to work but perhaps never been home for 50 years. Some of these retired men would be lonely, going from the pub to their bedsit. Joe visited them and helped them. We never knew just how much he did in London,” he said. “He was never one to blow his own trumpet.” Kevin revealed that among the London community and the Peabody Trust, Joe Crilly was revered and exceptionally well known. They had organised next Saturday’s celebration of his life to honour Joe and his achievements.