Dad takes to the roads in memory of Joanna

A LEALHOLM farmer has completed the Scotland-leg of a charity bike ride in memory of his daughter.

Martin Foord (51) of Wild Slack Farm has so far raised more than 1,400 in the John O'Groats to Land's End challenge.

He and a group of friends have covered the journey from the tip of Scotland to Carlisle in four separate legs over three years.

It is expected to take a further four years to reach the south coast of England with the cyclists clocking between 180 to 200 miles at various intervals.

Mr Foord has dedicated the challenge to his daughter Joanna who died from an epileptic seizure in December 2000 while at York University.

The 19-year-old had no history of the disorder and her dad, mum Andrea, sister Rebecca and brother Aidan were left stunned by her death. The funds raised by Mr Foord will go to epilepsy research and awareness to help sufferers and their families.

Mr Foord said: "I had not realised that this illness could strike in such a sudden and devastating way, seemingly at random.

"I feel that any research and raising of awareness of what can happen to a young person in particular is worthwhile in order to possibly save one or two lives each year.

"With this in mind I would like to thank everyone for their generosity which this year will have raised somewhere in the region of 750, which does at least make the sore backside and aching legs worthwhile."

Mr Foord said the latest leg of the journey was 195 miles between Ardrossan and Carlisle.

He was joined in the saddle by friends Matt Webster, Mark Jefferies, Martin Linton, Andy Featherstone, Richard Owen, Paul Johnson, Ian Thorpe and support driver Jim Richards.

"The route took us on forest tracks, dedicated cycle ways and minor roads through Dumfries and Galloway and into Cumbria, finishing a few miles south of Carlisle," said Mr Foord.

He explained the John O'Groats to Land's End ride idea came from an initial coast to coast cycle in the wake of losing Joanna and the impact of foot and mouth at his farm only six months later.

"Even though the weather was variable to say the least it is a wonderful way to see the countryside, coming upon breathtaking views and sights you would simply not see otherwise," he said.

Joanna was a pupil at Lealholm Primary School, Eskdale and Sneaton Castle in Whitby and Prior Pursglove College in Guisborough.

She then went on to study English Literature and the History of Art at York University after a brief spell at Bradford University.

Joanna was a talented musician, playing the piano and flute.

The charity Mr Foord is backing is called Epilepsy Bereaved, which aims to increase awareness and improve information about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and epilepsy in general.

For more information go to the website www.sudep.org or ring (01235) 772852.

Anyone wishing to sponsor or make a donation to Mr Foord can contact him on (01947) 897420 or (07773) 997740.