The wonderful care received by her father at the end of his life inspired an intrepid Hest Bank woman to take on an epic cycle ride.
Rachael Edmonds cycled from Lancaster to London in only three days in memory of her dad who was cared for at St John’s Hospice during his final days.
Mum-of-two Rachael had already fundraised for the Lancaster hospice over the years – but when her father Colin Mills died earlier this year, she was spurred on to do even more.
There and then she decided to sign up for the hospice’s fundraising Nepal Trek 2020 and as a way to raise funds for this she decided only a month ago to rise to the epic cycle challenge. Financial planner Rachael had never cycled for more than 50 miles in one ride before but undeterred, she planned her route and set off at 5.30am on a Friday morning.
She was accompanied on the first leg by James Meeks of Positive Cycles NW, who had re-routed his Hest Bank to Hackney journey to ride with her, cycling 98 miles.
She then rode day two and three on her own, unaided and unsupported.
Day three was a gruelling 135-mile ride from Droitwich to Buckingham Palace setting off at 5am.
Despite the arduous trip Rachael enjoyed the sights, from rolling fields to beautiful iron bridges, farm tracks, country lanes and woodland paths.
But she also experienced the downsides of such a challenge.
“I was just outside London, I think near Heathrow, with a puncture and my phone had died,” said Rachael.
“I was tired, dehydrated and desperately trying to find my way into the city. Finally, a kind stranger agreed to let me use their phone to look at maps and make contact with my mum and sister so they wouldn’t worry about me as I was really late.
“Day three was definitely the hardest – I got lost and was disorientated – I felt lonely at times but used Facetime to chat to friends and family and music to keep me going but knew I had to finish this ride.
“My dad had always been there for me and thoughts of him inspired me to get through that day and finish. Near the end of the last day I was replacing the inner tube of my tyre post puncture and thinking that dad – he had been a motor mechanic all his life – would have been proud that I finally could repair my own tyre instead of phoning him!
“I can’t tell you how happy I was when I finally got to Buckingham Palace to be met by my sister - to see a friendly face at the end of such a trip meant so much, I was exhausted yet so proud of myself.”
Rachael had only praise for the care her dad received from the hospice.
“The work of our local hospice is incredible, they made sure that mum, dad, my brother, sister and I could be together as a family spending quality time together as we watched dad fade away,” she said.
“The staff are amazing and did everything possible to make sure he was getting care, attention and comfort to enable him not to suffer, be peaceful and have the most amazing end of life care.
“I was able to be his daughter again and mum his wife, not his carers. I was able to walk his dog in daily and he was able to have Fin, his black Labrador, in his bed with him and by his side.
“I can’t imagine what we would have done without the hospice and I’ll carry on fundraising so that it is there in the future for other families.”
*If you wish to help Rachael in her fundraising efforts for St John’s Hospice, you can donate here