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Fundraising grandmother, 82, to tackle Wild Atlantic Way for cancer charity

By Douglas Barrie
A fundraising grandmother is planning to cycle the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way next year for a cancer charity – after she overcomes a knee operation.

Mavis Paterson, who lives near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway, started raising money for charity after losing all three of her children in the space of four years.

The 82-year-old last year became the oldest woman to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats and raised more than £75,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support in the process.

Now she is raring to go to support the charity again with another cycle in 2021, this time facing the longest coastal bike ride in the world in Ireland.

Ms Paterson said: “I just have the small issue of a knee operation and then I can start to plan this. I love Ireland and it’s a long way to go, but I know I can do it.

“It has taken me a long time to get to this point in my life, I’ve had a lot of help and support along the way. To lose a child is the worst thing on earth, but to lose all three?

“I do it for Macmillan but I also do it for my three children, it’s for them too.”

Her son Sandy died of a heart attack in 2012, daughter Katie after suffering viral pneumonia in 2013 and son Bob in an accident in 2016.

Each of the children were in their 40s.

Ten years ago “Granny Mave” cycled across Canada to raise money for the same charity when she turned 70 and in 2018, after turning 80, she completed a 24-hour cycle six months after having an operation for a new knee and hip.

The fundraising work has led to the charity presenting her with their highest honour – the Sir Hugh Dundas Award.

She added: “I want to say a massive thank you to Macmillan for this award. I’m quite speechless to be honest. What a lovely thing to receive.

“When I lost my children, I wasn’t able to concentrate on anything. The grief is unimaginable, it never goes away, it’s awful.

“Raising money for Macmillan and planning challenging cycles has been a great way to focus away from my grief and use what energy I have to do some good.

“I really am delighted to be given this award – it means an awful lot.”

Macmillan fundraising manager Derek Watson also said: “Mavis really is something else. She deserves this award for everything she has achieved.

“She’s a wonderful ambassador for us and we’re extremely grateful to have her on board. She’s an integral member of her local committee and has raised hundreds of thousands for us for over two decades.

“She has been a regular feature in the media over the past year, sharing her emotional story whilst still determined to inspire others and to raise the profile of our organisation which is close to her heart.

“She goes way beyond her ambassador role and we are thrilled to be able to recognise her contribution to Macmillan. Congratulations Mavis – you are simply amazing.”

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