Little Thea cycles miles to fight cancer

Seven-year-old Thea Greenwood has cycled 15 miles and raised £1,200 in memory of her auntie. Catherine Scott reports.

Thea Greenwood who has raised more than £1,000 in memory of her auntie who died from breast cancer

A seven-year-old girl has raised £1,200 for Yorkshire Cancer Research after completing a 15-mile bike ride in memory of her aunt.

Thea Greenwood, from Aberford, near Leeds, decided to take on the challenge to celebrate the life of Helen Cracknell, who died from breast cancer last year.

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“Thea’s had a bike for a long time, but after lockdown we started cycling every evening to get outside for exercise,” says Thea’s mum Emma. “As we started getting a bit fitter her uncle Dan – Helen’s husband – suggested we work up to a longer ride and do it for charity.

Thea with her auntie Helen Cracknell who died of breast cancer

“Thea was up for the challenge, and choosing the charity was easy as Yorkshire Cancer Research is so close to our hearts.”

Helen was first diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Following surgery and chemotherapy she was able to spend 18 months ‘cancer free’ and celebrated her 40th birthday with family and friends. However, the cancer returned, and she passed away at St Leonard’s Hospice in York in February 2019.

“Helen was beautiful both inside and out. She was incredibly kind and thoughtful. Throughout her experience with cancer she was so determined and inspirational. She did everything with such dignity and thought for others. She and Dan didn’t have any children but Thea was as good as her own. They just adored each other. They both loved Strictly Come Dancing and would spend hours making up routines. They loved to bake and cook, but most of all they just enjoyed spending time with each other. Helen was so protective of Thea during her illness, always making time for her and never showing how much pain she was in.”

Thea cycled a circular route from her uncle’s home in Sherburn-in-Elmet, where she and her parents have been living since lockdown, to villages including Saxton, Church Fenton and Little Fenton.

“She was nervous leading up to it but she was absolutely brilliant on the day, often beating me up the big hills. She was just determined to get to the end and earn all the money people had donated.

“She was so pleased afterwards and happy with all the lovely messages, congratulations and video calls she received. Myself, her dad and her uncle did it with her and we were all so proud of her achievement and determined attitude. She was a little star.”

To sponsor Thea, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theas-big-bike-ride.