Sunday, 21 April 2019

Woman, 80, ‘cycles’ 40 miles in her wheelchair for heart research charity

Woman, 80, ‘cycles’ 40 miles in her wheelchair for heart research charity

WOMAN of 80 “cycled” the equivalent of 40 miles for charity.

Barbara Small was raising money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her son Philip, 49, who died after suffering a heart attack in 2015 in Canada, where he lived with his wife and two children. 

Mrs Small, who lives at the Abbeycrest Care Home in Kennylands Road, Sonning Common, is unable to ride an ordinary bicycle because the left side of her body is paralysed after she suffered a stroke in October 2016.

Instead she was loaned a pedal device called a motomed by her physiotherapist Sarah Mindham that attached to her wheelchair to record her mileage. She pedalled the distance over four days using her right leg and with her left foot strapped into the other pedal.

She began the challenge on Saturday when she pedalled 12 miles. She was joined by Nikki Soutter and Lorri Claridge from the human resources department at Thames Water, where she used to work, for encouragement. 

On Sunday, she did another 10 miles, supported by her other son David, 45, and his wife Paola, 49, from Poole in Dorset. Her daughter-in-law cheered and waved a pom pom when she had finished.

Mrs Small then completed another eight miles on Monday and the final 10 on Tuesday.  She raised a total of £520. In 2014, she raised £3,000 by completing a tandem skydive from 10,000ft at Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury in aid of the Multiple System Atrophy Trust as her late husband Peter suffered from the disease. He died in 2017, aged 79.

Mrs Small said: “I have always got to have a challenge. My next big one is going to be Mount Snowdon. The last time I went up it, I was on the train. It makes me happy to be able to raise money for good causes.

“When I did the skydive MSA was such a rare disease that nobody knew about it. When Peter was first diagnosed, even the GPs didn’t know about it.

“They badly needed money for research. I feel good about doing that. I didn’t want anybody else to suffer in the way he did.  Her son said: “I think what she is doing is wonderful considering how she was after the stroke. Strokes are obviously very complicated. During the first three days we were told there might not be much improvement at all but here we are now.

“She has got to have a challenge all the time. She is mad as a hatter, just unstoppable.”

Mrs Small thanked staff at the care home, saying: “They have taken care of me for the last two or three years. I lost all my independence when I had a stroke and I became depressed. All the staff are friendly and helpful. They are all very good.”

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