Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Three day ride helping boost ovarian cancer research

A GROUP of cyclists have pedalled from Carlisle to Whitehaven, then on to Barrow as part of a three-day fundraiser in memory of a young Cumbrian woman who died from ovarian cancer.

Emma Gyles, of Aspatria, was just 24 when she lost her life to the illness.

Since her death, in 2008, Emma’s family raised money to prevent other deaths. To date they have raised £50,000 for the Emma Gyles Bursary, funding ovarian cancer research.

Each year it pays for a medical student to work alongside Emma’s consultant, Professor Richard Edmondson, finding out more about the cancer and developing new treatments.

But to keep it going they must raise at least £10,000 a year – which is why the group are embarking on this week’s massive cycle challenge.

Setting off from Carlisle yesterday morning, the cyclists – including Emma’s dad Ken – are cycling to Saint Mary’s Hospital Manchester, where the scheme is now based.

On the way they are visiting hospitals with an information stand to raise wider awareness of ovarian cancer.

On the first day they covered about 90 miles, from Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary to Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital, then down the coast to Furness General Hospital in Barrow.

Today they are due to visit the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, then push on to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. The final day will see them head to Manchester, via the Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Bolton Hospital.

Ken said: “We’ve now raised £50,000. I’m so chuffed with that. It means a lot. We’ve had so much support from friends and family – people raising money in all kinds of different ways.

“The bursary is now in its fourth year and I’m thrilled with how it’s going. We keep getting reports back.

“I know we are just playing a small part but I’m proud that this research is in Emma’s name. It’s keeping her memory going to help others.

“But it’s not just the money. This cycle is really about raising awareness of ovarian cancer so we can help other people get diagnosed sooner.”

The cycle team also includes Prof Edmondson, who recently moved from Newcastle to a new job at Saint Mary’s, Manchester. He said although the bursary student will now be based with him, the research will be continuing between the two areas.

He added: “It’s going really well. We understand a lot more about ovarian cancer than we did five or six years ago. We realise there are lots of different types so are looking at individualising therapy and personalising it to patients.”

Also on the bike ride are current bursary student Emily Barnard and her predecessor, Maddie Moat.

Emily, a keen cyclist, said she was delighted to be chosen as this year’s bursary student. “I definitely want to pursue gynaecology as a career, so the opportunity to be part of this research has been brilliant for me.

“Emma’s is a really emotive story so I was more than happy to get involved in the bike ride. We really want to raise awareness of the symptoms.”

Joining them on the first leg of the ride were members of the North Cumbria gynaecology team, Dr Emma Winter and Sister Helen Tzabar, her husband Dr Yoaz Tzabar and their son Daniel.

Follow the team’s progress on Twitter @emmagylesfund or donate at


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