Lancaster schoolgirl’s three-day bike ride raises £1,400 in memory of her Gregson founder dad

Anna Hopkins with daughter Eva during their bike ride.
Anna Hopkins with daughter Eva during their bike ride.

An eight-year-old girl spent her bank holiday weekend cycling from Barrow to Glasson in memory of her dad, who died two years ago.

Gregson centre founder Richard Dow died at the age of 58 in May 2015.

His daughter Eva and her mum Anna Hopkins set off to cycle the new Bay Cycle Way on Saturday, starting in Barrow-in-Furness and finishing in Glasson Dock three days later.

Stopping overnight in Ulverston and Arnside, they cycled around 25 miles per day.

As well as a way of remembering Eva’s dad, the pair also raised £1,465 for child bereavement charity Winston’s Wish.

Eva, who is eight and goes to Dallas Road Primary School, had been preparing for the ordeal by cycling with her mum every weekend for the past six weeks as well as training cycle rides in the evening after school.

The cycle ride finished on Monday. which coincided with the anniversary of Richard Dow’s death two years ago.

Despite a tricky start to their journey involving a flat tyre and all trains being temporarily cancelled out of Lancaster – along with a torrential rain, Anna and Eva completed their task, arriving at Glasson Dock on Monday to the support of family and friends.

Along the way they received donations from complete strangers who saw their pannier signs explaining what they were doing.

Anna said: “The weather was not great and it was raining and thundering as we made our way to Ulverston. Little did we know, the pub above which we were staying had a disco until 3am but luckily Eva slept through it!

“The next day was our hardest and longest day cycling 35 miles from Ulverston to Arnside. Luckily the weather was a lot better and we were met by our friends Janet and Leo for the last leg from Grange-over-Sands to Arnside.

“The final day began with really heavy rain. By day three Eva was pretty tired and soaked through and wanted to stop and get the train home.

“We managed to keep going until Warton where we found warmth and food to buck us up to do the final journey to Glasson Dock via Morecambe.

“At Morecambe we were met by friends Suzee and Ezra.

“Upon arriving at the Millenium Bridge we were met by a big group of friends cheering us on. Some then joined us for the last five miles to Glasson Dock where we were met with flowers and chocolate by family and friends.

“What a journey it was; stunning views and places we’d never been to before. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of complete strangers we met on the way.”

Richard was a prominent figure in Lancaster as the founding director of the Gregson Centre, the landlord of the Britannia and the Park Hotel, and involved in many community projects as well as being a socially aware landlord to many.

Winston’s Wish was vital in helping anna and Eva after Richard passed away.

Anna said: “When Richard first passed, I spent hours on the phone to them talking through how a child’s grief works, whether to tell the child about the suicide element, how much detail to go into etc.

“They were just amazing and quickly sent me books, worry dolls and other suggestions for dealing with Eva’s grief.

“In the initial few weeks, it seemed every corner I turned, I was on the phone to them – how to explain a funeral, a cremation, viewing the body...all extremely difficult and seemingly impossibly topics to cover with such a young child.

“But with the constant support of Winston’s wish, I found the right words and ways to tell Eva and learned that if a child asks about or for something in this context, they are ready to hear or deal with that matter.

“About a year ago, Winston’s Wish started visiting us once a month at home to ensure Eva was dealing with her grief and that her story had been interpreted and remembered in a way that no burning questions remained.

“Last summer we were then invited to go on a two-day residential course in Bolton where we met other families bereaved in the same way.

“The adults had group session separately to the children and it did both of us so much good.

“It was incredible for Eva to meet other children who had also been bereaved in the same way. All of this was provided free of charge.

“When I look at Eva now I see a happy, balanced, confident and mischievous little girl who, despite this massive loss, is really enjoying life and is a joy to be around.

“Winston’s Wish played a massive role in the Eva I see today. We have so far raised around £600 and would love to raise more.”

You can still donate to Anna and Eva’s cause online via Anna HOpkins (note the capital ‘HO’) at justgiving.com.