Beating bowel cancer together

Cycling 150 miles from coast to coast in memory of Laura Stephenson

Thursday 24 June 2021

Shaun Heys, from Leeds, and a team of friends and colleagues are cycling 150 miles in June 2021 from the Lake District to Whitby, in memory of his sister-in-law Laura Stephenson who died from bowel cancer in December 2019.

When Laura was first diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in April 2018, we wanted to do something positive for her. She was only 33 and has three young daughters; Heidi who is 7 years old and twin girls; Sophie and Naomi who are 4 years old.

The company I work for Rocol had introduced new initiatives to help us be more active, and as a keen cyclist I thought I could do a cycling challenge. I mentioned the Open Cycling 'Coast to Coast in a day' challenge where we would cycle from Seascale in the Lake District through The Yorkshire Dales to Whitby in North Yorkshire Moors. It's a 150 mile route with a slight elevation of 4,500m, and would take around 12 hours, so therefore a great challenge.

We had planned to do it last year but it was cancelled due to covid-19. Laura my sister-in-law had been aware of the challenge and definitely thought we were mad to cycle so far, Laura always saw great value in challenging yourself and previously had ran half marathons to raise money for charity.

Around four months before Laura passed away, at a really difficult point of her treatment, Laura mentioned to me that she really wanted us to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK. Laura had worked for a cancer charity before and was amazing at her job in fundraising, whilst being a spectacular mum to her three girls, all whilst undergoing treatment for stage 4 bowel cancer. I didn't need much more motivation than that to gather a team, which includes my friends, Joe, Ben, Andy, as well as my colleague Philip and our boss Filippo who are all keen cyclists.

My friend Andy is unable to cycle now due to an injury however he will be with us in a support vehicle with all our back up equipment, the all-important snacks and supporting with logistics. Andy is a graphic designer and helped Laura design the logo which originated from the authentic blog, Warrior Diaries which logs Laura's thoughts around strength, faith and hope throughout her treatment.

We're all quite fit individuals, but we've never cycled this distance before. It's a very hilly route, especially during the mountainous West Lake District and includes climbs up both Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass. It's hard to find similar elevations in West Yorkshire, so it will be a great challenge to do in memory of a strong & brave individual.

We've nearly raised £2,000 out of a target of £5,000. If you'd like to donate please visit our JustGiving page.

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