A town planner from Harrogate is taking on the 2014 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 race on Sunday 10 August 2014 for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, as a tribute to her beloved sister who died from lymphoma last year.
The cycling event, described as ‘the London marathon of the cycling world’, starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and follows a 100-mile route through the capital and the Surrey countryside, finishing on The Mall in central London.
Heather Cole-Bayes decided to take on the race for Anthony Nolan in memory of her younger sister, Philippa.
Philippa, who was revising for her A-Levels, started to experience extreme tiredness and turned a yellow colour, before she was eventually diagnosed with a rare type of Lymphoma on 13 May 2011, just after her 18th birthday.
The family was told that Philippa’s best hope would be a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor on the Anthony Nolan register. The transplant was an initial success; with Philippa seemingly back to normal, returning to university to continue her studies. However, at one of Philippa’s routine blood tests it was found that her cancer had spread and her condition took a turn for the worse. Philippa sadly died on 27 November 2013, aged just 20.
Heather said: We are so grateful for the extra bit of time we had with her. Without Anthony Nolan we wouldn’t have had the last precious moments we had.
This is why I want to give something back. We felt so helpless to save Philippa but fundraising makes us feel better, like we were doing something.
Heather rode Ride London last year and Philippa helped her to raise funds, asking friends for sponsorship online. But this year, Heather is tackling the challenge again in her memory.
Heather said: Philippa was sadly too ill to be there on the day last year but she wanted to be there.
She told me I had to beat Boris Johnson! Doing RideLondon-Surrey gave me a focus and drive at a difficult time.
Now I can do it in her memory to help me feel like I’m doing something for her and others like my dear sister.
Anthony Nolan has been saving the lives of people with blood cancer, such as leukaemia, for over four decades, by matching them to people willing to donate their bone marrow, or blood stem cells, for a lifesaving transplants.
Mary Campbell, Head of Events at Anthony Nolan, said: We are honoured that Heather is cycling Ride London with us this year in loving memory of her sister.
Our incredible team will be cycling many miles in order to save lives.
The funds they raise will enable us to recruit potential bone marrow donors to the Anthony Nolan register – any one of whom could be a lifesaving match for someone with blood cancer.
Chris Newton, three time Olympic Cycling medallist and Anthony Nolan’s Cycling Ambassador said: As an ex–athlete, believe me, this is no walk in the park.
One hundred miles is a real challenge, it’s the London marathon of the cycling world. I think it’s amazing these riders are taking on this huge test for such a worthy cause – their efforts will help cure blood cancer.