South Scotland

Galloway grandmother Mavis Paterson starts 960-mile cycle challenge

Mavis Paterson Image copyright Macmillan Cancer Support
Image caption Mavis Paterson hopes to complete her journey in about three weeks

An 81-year-old from south west Scotland has begun her bid to become the oldest woman to cycle the 960 miles (1,540km) from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Mavis Paterson, of Auchenmalg near Glenluce, hopes to complete the journey in about three weeks.

She has taken up the challenge in memory of her three children who died within four years of one another.

Ms Paterson said she was "a little bit nervous" but it was something she really wanted to do.

The Guinness Book of Records has confirmed that she would become the oldest woman to cycle the route if she completes it.

She is raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity she started to support after her mother and sister died from the illness.

Image copyright Macmillan Cancer Support
Image caption The 81-year-old from Dumfries and Galloway cycled across Canada a decade ago

Ms Paterson said the cycle ride would also help her to cope with the loss of her three grown-up children who died between 2012 and 2016.

"I always set myself a goal and a challenge and it takes my mind off the grief that I suffer with losing my children," she said.

"It is not a race but if I actually finish it I will be the oldest woman who has ever cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats so I will be in the Guinness Book of Records."

The Dumfries and Galloway resident is no stranger to such challenges.

"I have done quite a lot, I cycled across Canada when I was 70 and at the end of that I was interviewed and I was just quite sorry it was all over," she said.

"So I might feel the same with this one too."

Image copyright Macmillan Cancer Support
Image caption Ms Paterson will have friend Heather Curley to keep her company

Macmillan staff and volunteers will join her and cycling companion Heather Curley for parts of the ride.

"I'm not really competitive I just enjoy taking on the challenges and just determined to do my very best in this one," added Ms Paterson.

"I really never give up, I don't think I've ever given up.

"I have just got to believe in myself and keep going."

'Astounding generosity'

Derek Watson, Macmillan fundraising manager, called her "incredible".

He added: "The challenge she has set herself is astounding and we cannot wait to cheer her on to get that world record.

"Her determination, incredible level of fitness and her generosity, is astounding."

If she completes the challenge, anyone thinking of beating her record should be warned.

"Somebody might try and break it - and then if they break it I might try and break theirs," said Ms Paterson.

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