Chas Collins Remembered
Chas was a patient at the Christie hospital’s Haematology and Transplant unit. He was very affable and extremely well liked by everyone on the unit – patients, doctors, nurses, cleaners and volunteers alike. Chas was a keen cyclist and although he was often in the HTU for treatment, he was often out on his bike. One day he told me that he had fallen off his bike and no longer had the energy to remain safe on it and so he had to stop pedalling. With a smile on his face, he said “it had to happen sooner or later”.
Chas was a supporter of one of the Tour de Manc headline charities (HaTS) and was always interested in finding out the latest news on the Tour de Manc arrangements – as an experienced and knowledgeable cyclist, Chas provided lots of great input during the planning stages of the inaugural event (held June 14th 2016).
Sadly, Chas lost his struggle against Leukaemia the week preceding that inaugural ride – so we thought it would be a fitting tribute, to dedicate the 2017 Tour de Manc to him. This is why the 2017 Tour de Manc was known as the “Chas Collins Memorial Edition”. We know Chas would have been chuffed at this. Each year we’ll be remembering Chas – maybe by a message on the signs or some other nod of the cap, but we’ll remember him.
Tony – Tour de Manc Coorganiser
More About Chas
Chas had loved cycling all his life, as a child he had regularly gone to the velodrome at Fallowfield with his mates and watched his heroes race. Family life and work curtailed his cycling activities for a period and it wasn’t until he retired that he started to get back out on his bike on a regular basis. Cycling gave him freedom and the opportunity to meet interesting and likeminded people, this suited his social and friendly nature.
It was as a result of these friendships that a small cycling group started to form. This eclectic mix of “elderly schoolboys” that were either retired or between jobs and described as a cross between Dad’s Army and Last of the Summer Wine, became known as “The Gentlemen Shale Trailers of Cheadle”. Chas was the oldest member. They would ride on a regular basis and explore the North West. In an attempt to make it look like they were a serious outfit they would regularly hold meetings including an AGM, despite their best efforts these were anything but serious.
In 2013 at the age of 70 Chas decided he was going to cycle around North Wales, he didn’t book any accommodation he just thought he’d see where he ended up each evening and take it from there. He covered up to 100 miles a day and had a great time. Chas had created several adaptations and additions to his bike, the most legendary of these modifications was the washing line he’d erected between the tubes of his frame where he would hang the underpants he had washed in the hotel room the night before.
Later the same year Chas was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Initially things didn’t look good, but thanks to the incredible staff at Christie’s and some ground-breaking treatment, a few months later he was told that he was in remission. Chas always knew that there was a chance the leukaemia could return, despite this he remained positive and continued to go out every week with his cycling pals.
Eventually the leukaemia did come back and regular visits to the HTU clinic began. Chas was a popular patient with the staff. Regardless of how ill he became he would always want to know how they were doing. He would regularly talk to them about their interests, for those that shared a passion for cycling he would provide routes and cafe recommendations. For those with other interests he would help any way he could.
Chas was determined to cycle as long as possible, he would joke that his regular blood transfusions were actually a form of high level blood doping that was going to make him faster than ever. Eventually however the illness got the better of him and he had to give up cycling. Despite this he remained positive, he truly believed he’d had a great life and was content in his outlook. The Gentleman Shale Trailers continued to visit him and share the stories from the latest ride. At an AGM it was unanimously agreed that Chas should be given the title of club president.
On the 9th of June 2016 Chas passed away. As per his instructions, at the wake, his bike was placed on the stage fully equipped for one of his “grand tours”. A pair of underpants were suspended between the tubes of the frame.
Rick Collins – Chas’ son (also, Full Manc Rider on the Chas Collins Memorial Edition)