Cyclist completes 100-mile challenge in memory of his Halifax cousin

Neil McHaffie, 41, completed the 100-mile cycle challenge in memory of his cousin from Halifax
Neil McHaffie, 41, completed the 100-mile cycle challenge in memory of his cousin from Halifax

The death of a 23-year-old Halifax woman to a brain tumour inspired her cousin to complete a 100-mile cycling challenge.

Neil McHaffie, 41, from Currie, Edinburgh took part in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey.

He raised more than £1,800 for the charity Brain Tumour Research, following the death of his cousin Emma Halstead.

Emma Halstead, from Halifax, died three years after her diagnosis with a glioblastoma multiforme – a highly aggressive type of tumour – in May 2016, having undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Motivated by his loss, Neil joined 25,000 cyclists at Prudential RideLondon-Surrey, described as “the world’s greatest festival of cycling”.

Dad-of-two Neil said: “Emma was a lovely girl. She was outgoing, happy and in the prime of her life when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

"Emma absolutely loved working for Calderdale Council and really wanted to progress; if fate hadn’t played its part, I’m sure she would have done.

"One of the hardest parts for Emma was losing her driving licence, as she had only just passed her test. It was unfair that she was robbed of her independence and tragically her life to such a horrendous disease.

“Three years on from Emma’s death, I wanted to do something positive to keep her legacy alive. As a keen cyclist, I decided to tackle my first charity bike ride to help raise vital funds and awareness for Brain Tumour Research.

“As a busy dad-of-two, training wasn’t easy but I was pleased to complete the bike ride in a good time.

"It was fantastic that my wife Fiona and our children Isabella and Oscar, nine and six, joined me on the day and seeing them in the crowd spurred me on to reach the finish line.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK and campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours.

The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

Joe Woollcott, community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research in Scotland, said: “We congratulate Neil for completing RideLondon and we hope he inspires others to take on a fundraising event for Brain Tumour Research. Emma’s story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. We cannot allow this devastating situation to continue.”