A Hertfordshire family and their best friend have completed a gruelling 500-mile bike ride round the coast of Scotland to raise money for charity Diabetes UK.
Graeme Shaw, his sons William and Anthony, and best friend Keith Miller (pictured at the finish) took up the challenge in memory of Graeme’s brother Neil. Father-of-two Neil Shaw had lived with Type 1 diabetes for 20 years when he died following a heart attack in October 2015.
His devastated family knew the impact the condition had had on Neil’s life at times, which included serious injuries from seizures following hypos (low sugar). But they were shocked to learn how devastating the condition can be if not managed well.
Elizabeth, Graeme’s wife who was the lone support driver on the trip, said: “We were totally shocked when Neil died. We knew living with diabetes had been tough for him at times, but I don’t think any of us realised how serious it could be.”
“We wanted to raise money for Diabetes UK to support their amazing work, but also raise awareness of the condition. I don’t think many people realise that you can be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an adult.
“It was hard for him to have good control of the condition at times and we will never truly know if this led to his heart attack, but we do know that the better you manage your diabetes, the less chance there is of developing complications.”
Elizabeth supported the four intrepid cyclists for the whole trip by providing food, drinks, medical supplies and their bed every night. With no working radio in the van, Elizabeth, who sings with the Letchworth Arcadians, kept herself entertained with show songs.
The group gave up their summer holiday this year to tackle the tough North Coast 500 over nine days and raised more than £5,000 for Diabetes UK.
Along the route, strangers supported their endeavours with donations and even the occasional free meal. They cycled around 70 miles a day and faced some steep climbs, including the tough Bealach na Bà, but also enjoyed amazing scenery which ended with them finishing the epic journey at the picturesque Inverness Castle at the end of August.
Graeme said: “Neil was a very charismatic character who was loved by many people and is greatly missed. It was thinking of him and the other people who live with this condition who kept us going on some tough days. I’m very grateful to Keith and my sons for taking on this once-in-a-lifetime experience with me.”
Teresa Strange, Diabetes UK Eastern Fundraiser, said: “This group are truly inspirational and have tackled a really gruelling physical challenge to support Diabetes UK and its work.
“The money raised will help fund ground-breaking research, care services and campaigns that can change the lives of those living with diabetes. Diabetes UK is committed to a world where diabetes can do no harm.”
You can still support this amazing effort by going to their JustGiving page.