A student has taken on a mammoth bike ride challenge to commemorate her dad’s fifth anniversary, cycling the equivalent of five marathons in just four days.
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Lena Hughes pedalled the 127-mile length of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in honour of her dad Simon Hughes, from Chorley, and to raise money for St Catherine’s Hospice where he was cared for in his final days.
The 22-year-old was joined by her boyfriend Jamie Sheard and their friend Sam Gibson, who both ran and walked the distance. The trio have split their sponsorship money of £4,524 between St Catherine’s Hospice, St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds where Jamie’s mum was cared for, and Alzheimer’s Society UK as Sam’s grandma has dementia.
Lena, who has now finished studying at Leeds Beckett University, said: “It went really well. It was more difficult than we ever could have imagined but the sense of achievement at the end and the money we’ve raised made it so worthwhile. Sam injured his knee at the end of the second day so he had to walk over 60 miles with an injury.
“I hadn’t ridden a bike in more than 10 years before taking on the challenge.
“The three of us had a great sense of being a team, and on the rainy day to lift our spirits we spent the last hour singing our hearts out whilst running and cycling.”
Lena, who spent many weekends with her dad in Chorley, added she has a lot of fond memories from her time there, and enjoyed reminiscing as she cycled through the town along the canal.
She said: “Jamie lost his mum 10 years ago to cancer and came up with the idea of the challenge. He encouraged me to come alongside him to commemorate my dad’s five year anniversary and I feel so grateful as it’s the first time I’ve felt ready to acknowledge everything that’s happened, the time that has now passed, and my desire to give back to St Catherine’s.
“Although the circumstances are sad, it’s amazing that Jamie and I were able to support each other and make something positive out of our shared losses.”
Dad-of-four Simon was initially diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2011 and had an operation to remove the cancer cells, as well as chemotherapy. He was given the all clear in Spring 2012 but by the autumn, the cancer had returned and he was told that he had just 12 months to live. In April 2013 he was referred to the inpatient unit at St Catherine’s Hospice for pain management, and died two weeks later, aged 47.
Lena added: “The hospice staff were amazing. They made unbearable circumstances that little bit more bearable by providing loving care and a sense of peace to both my dad and all of the family.”