Paula Wilce is tackling a 300-mile cycle challenge to raise funds for a charity that supports her grandchildren

GLOUCESTER NANA GETS PEDALLING FOR CHARITY

Paula Wilce, from Gloucester, is going the extra mile for a charity close to her heart this month as she takes on a gruelling 300-mile cycle challenge – the inaugural charity bike ride, Tour De Scotty.

For Paula, this challenge is extra special. Not only is she challenging herself after coming through a recent battle with cancer, but she is also aiming to raise money for bereaved Armed Forces children’s charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity which has been crucial in supporting her three grandchildren following the death of their dad, Paula’s son, in 2019.

Private Ross Standing who was 27, died in a car accident in July 2019 leaving behind three young children, Luca (8), Nyla (3) and Amaya (1). Since his death, the children have found solace in the support network created by Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

The charity, which was founded in 2010 by war widow Nikki Scott, supports hundreds of children, just like Luca, Nyla and Amaya, up and down the country, who at such a young age have already gone through so much.

Over the last year, on top of losing her son, Paula has had her own health battle to fight and has found exercise to be a great healer. Last month Paula took on Scotty’s Little Soldiers’ May Marathon challenge, before deciding to sign up for the Tour De Scotty.

Paula explained: “It was around Ross’ funeral that I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and have recently tackled chemotherapy and had an operation. I am now free of cancer, but my body is not back to normal yet. I was just getting back to normal life and looking to return to employment as I had been made redundant last June when lockdown happened. It was my stepdaughter who inspired me to start running as she is hoping to join the RAF after her A-Levels, and I started with the Couch to 5K. I then saw Nikki’s post about the May Marathon and thought, I am already running so I may as well give it a go! Running to raise money for Scotty’s motivated me more – I achieved 40 miles and I’ve almost completed Couch to 5K.

“I’ve started Tour De Scotty, but my body is not what it used to be because of chemo. I’m finding it hard as I am also still running, but I cycle with my husband which motivates me. We are doing about 11 miles a day. I’m enjoying it – all my fundraising and exercise has really helped with the whole coping process in what’s been a really hard time.”

From her May Marathon challenge Paula raised £874 for the charity and is hoping her charity cycle will do the same.

She added: “I keep hearing what Scotty’s are doing, and I fundraise because I know that if I’m helping the charity, then I’m helping my grandchildren. The team at Scotty’s are always reminding the children that they are there for them. They received Easter eggs in April, my two granddaughters have been to Butlins, they get birthday cards, and the team always check in on the kids and are making sure they know they are there for them. It is the anniversary of Ross’ death soon, and I know the children have received vouchers. Throughout lockdown there has been constant contact and checking in with them, too.”

The Tour De Scotty challenge is the inaugural cycling challenge organised by Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The charity launched the challenge as a way of helping to boost fundraising during lockdown, with unlimited exercise now permitted under new Government guidelines. The aim of the challenge is to cycle 300 or 600 miles and can be done indoors or outdoors, while following Government guidelines. Everyone who raises money will also receive a prize – those who raise £50 will receive a Scotty’s morale patch, those who raise £100 will receive a special Tour De Scotty Medal and those who raise £150 will receive a free cycling shirt. And everyone who reaches their target miles, will receive a special Tour De Scotty certificate.

Nikki Scott set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers after her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in Afghanistan the previous year, leaving behind two young children. The charity does lots of things to support its members, including providing access to the very best health and wellbeing care, offering outstanding development opportunities through a range of activity and educational grants, and Scotty’s helps put smiles back on those brave faces by organising events, providing respite breaks, posting them birthday and Christmas presents and remembering the anniversary of their parent’s death.

Usually, at this time of year, Scotty’s would be arranging respite breaks for the families, but sadly this isn’t possible at present. In recent weeks, the charity has had to adapt to the current climate and has been using modern technology and arranging exciting virtual events and activities to engage with its members as well as offering an increased level of emotional support to a great number of families who are struggling to cope with added pressures.

Nikki said: “Paula is an inspiration. I can’t believe what she has gone through in such a short space of time, turning something negative into a positive to benefit her grandchildren and other children just like them. I feel proud to be supported by Paula. Good luck Paula – and thank you! It’s because of people like her that we can continue to operate.”

To donate to Paula’s fundraising visit https://givepenny.com/paulawilce_300_mile_tour_de_scotty

Or to sign up for your own virtual fundraising event or challenge, go to: vf.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk

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