A 20 year old student from Redditch will be taking part in a cycling challenge in memory of her best friend’s Mum.

Olivia Salkeld will be cycling 45 miles in order to raise funds for St Richard’s Hospice, who looked after Helen Deaves before she died in December 2015, at just 37 years old.

The annual Bikeathon event – which will take place on Sunday 1 July this year – allows participants to choose from 16, 45 or 64 miles. Each of the routes starts and finishes at the hospice in Wildwood Drive, while the two longer rides will be timed.

Olivia said : “Helen was my best friend’s mum when I was at school and was like a second mum to me.  She was such a caring person and always gave great advice.  Ever since Helen was in St Richard’s I wanted to do some fundraising for them; I couldn’t believe that such a great organisation relies on volunteers and charitable donations.”

Olivia will undertake the cycling challenge with her father Paul, a keen cyclist and fundraiser for the hospice.  And although Olivia used to be a member of a cycling club and compete regionally, she hasn’t cycled for the past five years.  She said : “It is going to be a real challenge for me, coming back to cycling after such a break!”

Kelly Johns, Fundraiser at St Richard’s, said: “Stories such as these are always poignant and personal.  The impact of a loved one’s death can be life changing for family and friends.  We’d like to say a big thank you to Olivia and all those taking part in our Bikeathon event; funds raised will help us to continue to provide our specialist care.”

Mrs Deaves was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2014; in August 2015 she was also diagnosed with two brain tumours.  In November, she was referred to St Richard’s Hospice.

Antony Deaves, Helen’s husband said : “I had never been in a hospice before we arrived.  It was nothing like I had imagined, more like a hotel than the hospital I had envisaged.  I always remember asking one of the nurses whether it was a private hospice and she replied that it was mainly funded through donations.

“Helen was so thankful for the attention and help she received in those final days.  Helen could speak a little and was thankful for the staff’s attentiveness and help.  I lived in the room with her to help her, feed her and to be company for her.  As a popular teacher, she had a vast amount of visitors every day and she loved this.  She enjoyed ordering her food from the menu even though she knew that she wouldn’t be able to eat it all, this made her feel more human.  We all knew she would die but just being able to do this made her feel like she hadn’t just been written off.  It all added up to making her feel worthwhile and for this, as a family, we will always be truly grateful.”

The 16-mile route passes through villages including Kempsey and Pirton; the 45-mile route takes in Eckington and Pershore and the 64-mile route travels as far as Broadway and Snowshill.  The courses will all be clearly signposted and will pass through mainly quiet country lanes, or specific bike routes, with regular refreshment stops along the way.

The Bikeathon is sponsored by Midland Communications.

To sign-up for the Bikeathon visit www.strichards.org.uk/bikeathon, alternatively contact Kelly Johns on 01905 763963 or email kjohns@strichards.org.uk

St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative and end of life care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones. Each year the hospice team supports more than 3,000 patients, family members and bereaved people in Worcestershire.

The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support they can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can. They care for people with a range of illnesses including heart failure, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease as well as cancer. 

St Richard’s has launched the Build 2020 Appeal which aims to raise the final £1.4m needed to build a bigger hospice, enabling more patients and families to be cared for in Worcestershire.

The total cost for expanding and redeveloping the existing building in Wildwood Drive, Worcester, is £5.3m.

For more information about St Richard’s Hospice visit www.strichards.org.uk

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