A Leighton Buzzard solicitor who lost four family members to cancer powered through a 100km charity cycle challenge in their memory.
Annie Clements, 55, who works at Osborne Morris and Morgan, took on the Women vs Cancer ‘Ride the Night London’ route recently, smashing her original target of £500 and raising £860 in total.
Determined Annie was cycling in memory of four dear relatives who passed away within just 12 months: her mother-in-law, Maureen Clements, who died age 75 from breast cancer in May 2017; her son’s father-in-law Ken Davies, who died in April 2018 aged 70 from Leukemia; her brother’s father-in-law Paul Richardson, who died aged 77 from lung cancer in May 2018; and her cousin’s husband, Aaron Keeping-Coventry, who died aged just 30 years old from testicular cancer during the same month.
Annie said: “A friend of mine, Jo Dix-Pincott, asked me to do the cycling challenge in 2017, but there was just too much going on.
“Then she asked me again last year, after we’d lost three other family members, and I said ‘yes I flippin’ do!’
“It was quite a mild night, and people came out of their houses asking what we were cycling for.
“We said ‘women’s cancer’, so they’d shout back ‘yeah, come on, keep going!’”
The three charities supported by the cycle ride are Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and Ovarian Cancer Trust, and although not all of these had touched her family, Annie believes a breakthrough in any research is a positive - “if I can help one person it will have been worth it”.
The cyclists were cheered on by supporters as they made their way through the capital and past many of London’s iconic landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace, while Annie also says there were food stations along the way, where participants could treat themselves to bananas, cakes and more.
Her husband, Steve, came along, too, especially because Annie was cycling in memory of his mother, Maureen.
Annie said: “You never forget somebody but it gets easier. Just talking about it and remembering the good times you had, the giggles - that’s what got us through. Don’t bottle it up.
“You are not on your own and everybody needs somebody to talk to.”
She laughed: “Maureen was a stubborn women. If you wanted her to do something and she didn’t want to, she would say ‘I’ll do it in my own time.’ She had two kids, nine grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren. She loved her family.”
Meanwhile, Annie remembers Ken as being a “fun-loving guy”, and Paul as someone who loved the outdoors and caravan holidays with his family.
Her cousin’s husband, Aaron was only 30 when he died, leaving behind his wife whom he’d married in 2014.
Annie describes Aaron as hardworking, loving, and fun, and has an important message for readers.
She said: “Testicular cancer isn’t something that men check for, not as much as women check for breast cancer.
“If you feel something unusual, please go to the doctors and get it checked out.
“Similarly, women are happy to go to the doctors and say ‘I have a lump on my breast’, but cervical cancer screening is dropping. Again, it’s so important.
“If you are worried, take a friend to your appointment for support.”
She summed up her charity challenge, and concluded: “To all who donated and sent best wishes – thank you. It was an amazing experience and although, hard work at times, was great fun with lots of laughter along the way.”
But watch this space. Annie’s not done yet, and is even thinking about wing walking as her next goal!
To donate, visit her cycling challenge JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Annie-Clements