Tragedy in­spires trio to clock up miles for funds

The Oban Times - - NEWS - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

THREE am­a­teur cy­clists, in­spired by the tragic loss of a Lochaber man, have taken on the chal­lenge of cy­cling from Bal­lachul­ish to Bal­ly­gun­ner in Ire­land.

Orla Pur­cell, An­drew Gault and Lara Gray will ride 400 miles in four days start­ing on Wed­nes­day July 5 in me­mory of Orla’s late fi­ancé Richy Cross­land.

Richy was a fit and healthy 32-year- old non-smoker when he was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal lung cancer while trav­el­ling through New Zealand on a year out in 2011. Af­ter a short, ag­gres­sive six month fight, he lost his bat­tle with the ill­ness.

Orla told the Lochaber Times: ‘While Richy would maybe (def­i­nitely) have thought we were mad to un­der take this cy­cle, I know he would be proud and that he will re­main with us for each pedal, each push and each hill along the way.’

Since Richy died, Orla has re­turned to her na­tive Ire­land but she and Richy’s mum, Cona MacNi­col, who has lived in Bal­lachul­ish all her life, have stayed close.

Cona told the Lochaber Times she is full of sup­port for Orla. She added: ‘Richy was such a great son and this hap­pened so sud­denly to him and poor Orla. They were trav­el­ling through Asia and were head­ing off to New Zealand when he was di­ag­nosed.

‘They were head­ing for such an ad­ven­ture and were in their prime.

‘I am very, very lucky that Orla has stayed in our lives. An­drew is her new boyfriend and I think it is lovely they are do­ing the cy­cle to­gether. He is very nice – very dif­fer­ent from Richy – but very nice and I am so happy for her.

‘This is go­ing to be a ter­rific chal­lenge for them but they have been train­ing very hard. They are sup­port­ing re­ally worth­while char­i­ties and I hope they have a won­der­ful time do­ing it.’

Through­out the chal­lenge, the team will raise money for the Roy Cas­tle Lung Cancer Foun­da­tion and Water­ford Hospice.

Orla ex­plained: ‘The Roy Cas­tle Lung Cancer Foun­da­tion is the only UK char­ity solely ded­i­cated to de­feat­ing lung cancer. It pro­vides in­valu­able sup­port, ed­u­ca­tion and help for lung cancer pa­tients and their fam­ily, and funds es­sen­tial re­search into a cure.

‘ We will also be rais­ing money for the Water­ford Hospice which is a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­vid­ing pal­lia­tive care and sup­port for peo­ple liv­ing in the south east of Ire­land.’

To sup­port Orla, Lara and An­drew visit www.sur­vivetheride. net

Richy Cross­land was trav­el­ling with fi­ancée Orla Pur­cell when he was di­ag­nosed with lung cancer in 2011.

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