Lancaster woman takes on ride of her life in memory of dad

Jane Clarke and son Anan.
Jane Clarke and son Anan.
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A Lancaster woman is joining the fight against heart disease by taking on the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Bike Ride to help raise funds for lifesaving research.

Jane Clarke-Burns, 42, will be taking on the 54-mile cycling challenge on Sunday June 18 from Clapham Common to Brighton seafront after experiencing first-hand the devastating impact of heart disease.

At 19 years of age Jane tragically lost her father Kenny, who was 52 at the time, after he had a heart attack on the way to work. He was great at sports and an avid member of his local sporting community.

Jane said: “Waking up to learn that dad was dead was a complete shock and it was heart-breaking to deal with. I never want our memory of dad to fade. Even though my ten-year-old son Anan never had the chance to meet him, dad is a strong role model in his life.

“Last year Anan was selected to represent Team GB at the Biathle World Championships in Florida.

“Anan often asks about his grandad Kenny, and I remember after he completed a race he asked ‘What would grandad Kenny think?’ That was a very emotional moment for me.”

It was Anan who encouraged his mum to sign up to the BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride, as a way of raising money for research and to help keep someone else’s grandad alive. Now Jane has got back on a bike for the first time in years.

Jane adds: “I don’t even own a bike, so I’m hoping I can borrow one through Anan’s club. Anan doesn’t want me to finish last, but I’ll be happy with just getting to the finish line! We’re going to train together, starting small and building it up. I’ve never done anything like this before – nobody believes I’ll do it. But I will and I’ll be doing it for my dad and son. If I can do it, anybody can!”

The BHF’s iconic London to Brighton Bike Ride, sponsored by Tesco and Jaffa, is Europe’s oldest charity cycling event, with thousands of riders pedalling through the stunning Surrey and Sussex countryside every year, united in the fight against heart disease.

The nation’s heart charity is encouraging everyone to take on the challenge this year, to help power ground-breaking research that will bring new hope to the seven million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK.

Elizabeth Tack, event lead for London to Brighton Bike Ride at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Heart disease is heartless, it can affect anyone at any age without warning and research is the best weapon we have to fight it. By taking on our incredible London to Brighton Bike Ride Jane is helping bring us a step closer to beating heart disease for good so we are incredibly grateful for her support.

“Our London to Brighton Bike Ride is a fantastic challenge for cyclists of all abilities and a great day out for all the family who come to celebrate with us on Brighton beach. By following in Jane’s footsteps you too can take on the challenge and help us save lives.”

The BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride has run for more than 40 years, and has built up fantastic support along the 54-­mile route, with local communities cheering you on and offering refreshments all the way.

The London to Brighton Bike Ride is for the fast and the fall behinds, the solo riders and the team players. It’s for the experienced and the newbies, the confident and the cautious.

To sign up for this year’s London to Brighton Bike Ride, visit bhf.org.uk/L2B