Words by Smiley Team
Pensioners Sue Gotley and Pam Mann have conquered the Lands End to John O’Groats bike ride – all in the name of the British Heart Foundation.
Covering more than 50 miles a day, Sue and Pam have cycled 1,074 miles from the bottom of South West England to the top of Scotland carrying panniers that weighed 12-13kg. At the time Sue was 78 and Pam, who will turn 80 in July, was 79.
Their family members were able to track their progress online and update friends and supporters via Facebook and Instagram.
“Suddenly you’d come round a bend and there was a lot of waving and cheering and various members of our family [were] waiting there," say the inspirational pair.
The whole journey took three weeks, beginning on 20 May in Cornwall and finishing up at John O’Groats in Scotland in early June. All this was done to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, but also in celebration of Pam’s 80th Birthday, which is in July.
Sue and Pam had a personal reason for raising money for the British Heart Foundation.
In 2021, Pam’s son Steve, aged 54, suffered a life-threatening heart attack while training for a triathlon. He was transported to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where an emergency coronary angiogram was performed. This revealed a blockage in his right coronary artery, and a stent was inserted.
“For me, the British Heart Foundation has been a beam of light in my darkest moment,” said Steve. “They’ve provided so much help and reassurance when we felt at our most vulnerable and afraid.”
For many people, including those Sue and Pam met on their journey, Steve’s story is an all too familiar one.
“I think people have responded to it,” says Sue, of their personal reasons for supporting the British Heart Foundation. “On the one hand, we’re two older people doing quite a challenging bike ride… and then there’s the other dimension that we have a close family member who has had a heart attack and we’re doing it for the British Heart Foundation. It has made people keen to support us.”
They mention one touching encounter with a woman whose husband had died of a heart attack, and who donated as soon as she heard they were raising money for the British Heart Foundation.
Sue and Pam have raised more than £5,000 for the British Heart Foundation thanks to their fundraising efforts. This money will go towards life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases, and help to support others around the UK who are suffering from heart complications.
DONATE: You can still donate to Sue and Pam’s JustGiving page via the website.
VOLUNTEER: There are many different volunteer roles with the British Heart Foundation that you can apply for.
SUPPORT: Like Sue and Pam, you can start your own fundraiser to help the British Heart Foundation.
GET INVOLVED: Use the British Heart Foundation resources to learn how to administer CPR and save a life.