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South Yorkshire Police inspector's epic cycle ride in memory of mum who battled dementia

Richard with his mum Eileen.
Richard with his mum Eileen.
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A top cop got on his bike to complete an epic cycle ride in memory of his mum who died from dementia.

Doncaster custody inspector Richard Collingwood wanted to do something in remembrance of his mum Eileen who died aged 78 after a seven-year battle with the illness in May last year.

Their route.

Their route.

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The officer, who has worked for South Yorkshire Police for the last 20 years, decided to saddle up for a 250-mile bike ride across Wales in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Starting at Holyhead early on Friday, June 8, Insp Collingwood and his fellow Doncaster officer - sergeant Russ Higham - managed to finish the epic trip two days later on Sunday, June 10, in Chepstow.

They had additional support from Doncaster sergeant Richard Vernon and retired officer Dean Stockdale, who essentially acted as their caterers for the weekend and kept them well stocked with food and drink.

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After completing the ride, Insp Collingwood said of his mum: "She was such a proud and intelligent woman, raising myself and my two siblings to be the confident and well-rounded people we are today.

The officers during the ride.

The officers during the ride.

“But the illness is just utterly heart-breaking, having to watch your loved one be reduced to a childlike and confused state, it’s something that so many people go through and families have to witness such a sad deterioration of someone so close to them.

“This was one of the drivers for me to do the bike ride, to raise awareness of the illness and help contribute towards research into Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most common causes of dementia, as well honouring the memory of my mum and to remember her.”

He explained how the ride was rather eventful as they were called upon to free a trapped lamb.

Said Insp Collingwood: "Our ‘caterers’ managed to trade their role at one point, reverting to the police mantra of ‘protecting and preserving life’ when they saved a lamb we had come across trapped in a cattle grid with his mother, who sadly was no longer alive, on top of him.

“They went back along the ride trail we’d just come down, travelling on the narrow roads for ten miles, just to find the farmer.

"They then assisted him with the actual recovery of the lamb, to which the farmer was astounded they’d gone to so much trouble!"

Recalling the moment they finally finished the ride, he said: "The feeling when we arrived just after 6pm was a mixture of emotions.

"It was a relief knowing we were finished and could finally dismount the saddle and lose the lycra, but at the same time, I hoped my mum somehow knew I’d done this for her and that I was trying to help others.

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“While Russ and I have completed other rides, although not in the rain as we are fair weather riders and train on spin bikes in the winter, none have been as challenging as this one and his support meant a lot to me.

"I would highly recommend the ride across Wales, there’s a number of routes to choose from and it’s such a beautiful country with absolutely stunning scenery.

“We’re already planning our next ride, potentially looking at a route across Scotland. This will again be in support of the Alzheimer’s Society as it is such a worthwhile cause and I sincerely hope one day with all the research that is being conducted and carried out, a cure or treatment will be eventually be discovered.”

The ride has so far managed to raise more than £300 for the Alzheimer’s Society. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridefordementia