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Grandmother, 84, sets off on 1,000-mile ride to remember her late children

Mavis Paterson, who is raising money for Macmillan, is already the oldest woman to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats

A grandmother aged 84 has set out on a 1,000-mile bike ride around Scotland in memory of her three children, each of whom died within the space of four years a decade or so ago.

Mavis Paterson, known as Mave, set off from Mull of Galloway, close to her home in south west Scotland, on Saturday and aims to return there in four weeks’ time after riding 1,000 miles.

She will be riding in memory of her three children who all passed away while aged in their 40s, reports BBC Scotland.

One son, Sandy, died in 2012 following a heart attack, while her daughter Katie, died the following year after contracting viral pneumonia, and another son, Bob, was killed in an accident in 2016.

On the way, she will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Care – she lost both her mother and her sister to the disease – and just one day into her journey she has already smashed her target of £30,000 on JustGiving, with more than £43,000 pledged at the time of writing.

In 2019, she raised £60,000 for the same charity when, aged 81, she set a Guinness World Record for becoming the oldest woman to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

> 81-year-old becomes oldest woman to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats

Among those donating to her challenge on that occasion were Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, while Ineos also sponsored the Scottish leg of her trip to the tune of £10,000.

Other fundraising trips she has undertaken include cycling across the United States and Canada, and climbing Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

Speaking of her children ahead of setting out on her latest ride, Mrs Patterson said that getting on her bike helped her cope with losing them.

“When I am cycling, I don't think about them so much,” she explained, “which is a big help to me because the grief is unbearable.

“When my children died I just didn’t know what to do. But the cycling has helped me a lot.”

Mrs Patterson, who has three adult grandchildren, continued: “I can't go on living my life thinking about them all the time.

“I do think about them a lot but I've got to face life, so I take on the challenges which are a huge help to me. The last one I did was wonderful because it took my mind off of the children.”

She first began cycling as a child then switched to running, but got back into cycling in her fifties because it was easier on her knees.

“When I am cycling, I am really happy on my bike and I can even sing and enjoy myself,” she said.

Macmillan’s fundraising manager, Bruce Port, paid tribute to her, saying: “Mavis is incredible. The challenges she sets herself are astounding and she has achieved some incredible things to raise money for Macmillan.

“I know getting out on her bike helps her both physically and mentally, however it takes a huge amount of determination to achieve what she has.

“We are so thankful that she has picked Macmillan as the charity she wants to support. Mavis really is helping us to make a difference to those affected by cancer in Scotland.”

Talking about the charity, Mrs Paterson said: “I think about Macmillan because they have lost millions due to Covid so they need the money and I am going to work hard on that bike and hopefully raise lots and lots of money.”

Supported by a friend who is driving a camper van, she is aiming to cover between 30 and 50 miles a day, with some rest days in between.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Browsie | 1 year ago

I wish Mave all the best on her fundraising ride, she is an inspiration to us all.

dubwise replied to Browsie | 1 year ago

Well said Browsie.

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