‘My mum was my inspiration’ – Stevenage woman uses family’s cancer tragedies to complete 252-mile African cycle ride

Claire Wilson from Stevenage with her medal and refreshments after completing the Cycle Africa chall

Claire Wilson from Stevenage with her medal and refreshments after completing the Cycle Africa challenge in memory of her mum Diana Payne and nan June Clare. - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage woman who didn’t own a bike before signing up to a 252-mile cycle ride in Africa has raised thousands of pounds for three cancer charities after both her mum and nan died from the disease.

Claire Wilson from Stevenage (front) heads up a hill on the final day of the Cycle Africa challenge.

Claire Wilson from Stevenage (front) heads up a hill on the final day of the Cycle Africa challenge. - Credit: Archant

Claire Wilson’s five-day ride through poverty-stricken parts of Tanzania proved to be as challenging emotionally as it was physically, as she honoured the memory of her mum Diana Payne and nan June Clare.

Diana was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 but passed away two years ago at the age of 59 having been given a terminal diagnosis when the disease returned. Cancer of the ovaries also claimed the life of June, who died when Claire was just nine.

The 34-year-old, who works alongside her husband Darren at the Stevenage Business & Technology Centre-based SWA Electrical Engineering, found out about the ‘Cycle Africa – Women V Cancer Cycle Challenge’ last year and was determined to use her grief as motivation.

“I was down after the death of my mum so I wanted to do something positive and to give something back as she received a lot of support when she was poorly,” recalled Diana, who was spurred on by her two children, seven-year-old daughter Alanna and son Brodie, four.

Claire Wilson, second from right, along with fellow participants of the Cycle Africa challenge after

Claire Wilson, second from right, along with fellow participants of the Cycle Africa challenge after crossing the finish line. - Credit: Archant


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“Despite this mum never complained and always stayed positive right to the end, so I used that as inspiration.”

Claire, who admits she didn’t own a bike before signing up, lost two stone in weight with the help of personal trainer Charlie Baker at Stevenage’s David Lloyd while training for the ride – which was in aid of Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

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She has since raised more than £3,850, after being inundated with support from work colleagues, family and friends.

About the ride itself, Claire said: “It was hard work but amazing. All 93 women had been touched by cancer in some form and we just supported each other along the way.

“The last day was all uphill to the top of a crater. Everyone was exhausted but we were all cheering for each other – I was crying like a baby by the end, but it was all worth it.”

Claire is still accepting donations – visit www.justgiving.com/Claire-Wilson32 to support her three causes.

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