By Lucinda Cameron and Douglas Barrie, Press Association Scotland
A grandmother is cycling the entire length of Britain in memory of her three children who died within four years of each other.
Mavis Paterson, who lives near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway, set out on Thursday morning from Land’s End and aims to reach John O’Groats in around three weeks on June 20.
The Guinness Book of Records has already confirmed the 81-year-old will become the oldest woman to do so once she completes the 960-mile route.
She hopes to raise £20,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity she started to support after her mother and sister died from the illness.
Mrs Paterson said: “I’m excited and a little bit nervous about getting started, however it’s something I really want to do.
“It will be nice to get the world record, but for me I’m doing it to raise money for Macmillan and because cycling and taking on big challenges help me cope with the unimaginable grief of losing my children.
“It’s impossibly hard going from being part of a family of five to being alone, but taking on challenges like this that keep me going, and I’m happy I can do it to raise money for Macmillan.”
She added: “It has been unbelievable grief after my children died unexpectedly, but if I have a challenge I can focus on that and the grief is not so bad.”
Mrs Paterson’s three children died within four years of each other while all in their 40s.
Her son Sandy died of a heart attack in 2012, Katie after suffering viral pneumonia in 2013 and Bob in an accident in 2016.
She said: “I’ve taken on big challenges before, but this will be the toughest. I really hope people consider donating to help me meet my £20,000 target.
“It will be a great boost to know I’m helping raise so much money on the day when I’m struggling.”
Mrs Paterson and her cycling companion Heather Curley, 55, plan to cycle 50-60 miles a day.
They will sleep in a specially-designed campervan provided by Scottish firm Tunnock’s which will follow them – stocked with caramel wafers and tea cakes.
Last year the pensioner, who has three grandchildren, completed a 24-hour cycle and 10 years ago she cycled across Canada to raise money for the same charity.
She has been training for her current challenge since October last year and spent some time training in Australia when she went to stay with a niece in Brisbane in January.
Back in Scotland she continued her training and used a turbo trainer in her kitchen when the weather was bad, enjoying a view of the Mull of Galloway.
Macmillan staff and volunteers will join her for parts of the ride.
Derek Watson, Macmillan fundraising manager, said she was “incredible”.
He added: “The challenge she has set herself is astounding and we cannot wait to cheer her on to get that world record.
“Her determination, incredible level of fitness and her generosity, is astounding. We are so thankful that she has picked Macmillan as the charity she wants to support.
“Macmillan relies almost entirely on donations and it’s only thanks to people like Mavis, and their remarkable determination to take on challenges like this, that we are able to continue to support the growing number of people who need us.”
Donations can be made at justgiving.com/fundraising/mavis-paterson1
Pic by Exposure Photo Agency/PA Wire