Booths L2P Rider 2024 Damien McDonald

Written on March 22nd, 2024

Damien McDonald is Booths’ Director of Finance and has worked for Booths for seven years.

He is married to Rachel and has two children, Paddy and Leah, who are currently in further education.

How did you get into cycling – any tips for beginners?

When I was a student I used cycling as a way of getting a cheap holiday, either by strapping tent poles to the side of my bike and heading off to the Yorkshire Dales or (after I got my first job) by chucking my mountain bike and golf clubs in the back of my trusty maroon Ford Escort and going wild camping in Scotland, sharing every evening with the plentiful local midges????.  When Paddy and Leah arrived, I was more interested in spending time with the family than in exercising and so I forgot about cycling for a little while.

That was until a friend of mine was talking about cycling from John O’ Groats to Lands End but was struggling to convince his wife, who was adamant that he needed to start with something a bit more achievable.  After a few drinks I confidently announced “if you’re going to cycle the Coast to Coast – I’ll do it with you!”  I instantly regretted it in the morning and hoped that my friend would have forgotten the conversation!   He hadn’t, and as we were driving to the start point in Whitehaven a few weeks later, I remember thinking why didn’t I just say “sorry I don’t want to do this!!”

That was it though, I was hooked!   I loved the experience of spending a few days out in the open, doing some meaningful exercise and feeling proud to be completing the challenge.   I remembered how much I loved being on the bike.  I have never looked back since and have taken part in many more cycling challenges over the past few years.

So my real advice for beginners is to just get out there and take that first pedal – you won’t regret it.

What’s your favourite cycling snack?

Having done a few rides with Booths now I am a real fan of the tiffin bites in our stores and whenever I am in the café I love the Cakehead berry bakewells.

What’s the one piece of kit that you need for a long ride?

Two water bottles and something to record the ride on Strava (otherwise what’s the point?)

Why are you keen to support Cure Leukaemia by riding the London 2 Paris?

To do it all again – I took part in last year’s L2P and it was a fantastic experience and very humbling.  The Cure Leukaemia team are incredible; they organise a brilliant event and are always so upbeat.  We heard both some heartbreaking tales as well as stories of some amazing and inspiring successes.  This encouraged me to raise more funds for Cure Leukaemia this year, to enable them to continue to make a real difference to people.  Through our fundraising last year Booths were able to fund a Cure Leukaemia nurse in a Blackpool hospital and I feel incredibly proud to have been able to make a small contribution to this achievement.

Describe your perfect day?

Saturdays are my favourite day of the week as it is when I can really switch off for a bit.  Ideally, I would meet up with friends for an early morning cycle, possibly taking in the Trough of Bowland and stopping for a coffee at Puddleducks Cafe in Dunsop Bridge.  After lunch it would be time to set off to Deepdale with Leah and my Dad.  If I can get away with it then I’d celebrate a PNE win in the pub with my neighbour, a fellow football fan, watching the Premier League evening match before an evening meal out with Rachel, addressing the calorie deficit from the morning bike ride!

Donate to Damien’s fundraising via Just Giving by clicking here.