Alveston student Richard Cowie cycles 900 miles in memory of late friend
WHEN he lost one of his closest friends to a malignant tumour without a chance to say goodbye, an Alveston student went to great lengths to honour his memory.
Richard Cowie, 21, met Tim Woollcott at Swansea University, supporting him through an aggressive course of chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with a very rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2012.
Last year, the former Marlwood School pupil joined an Erasmus exchange programme to Odense University in Denmark.
In February, Tim's condition worsened until he passed away aged just 21, 53 weeks to the day from his diagnosis. Richard was unable to be by his side in his last moments.
This prompted the student to embark on a solo 900-mile bike ride across Europe on July 17, from Odense to Exter via Calais in homage of his late friend and to raise funds for The Ewing’s Sarcoma Research Trust to support research into a cure for the little-know form of cancer.
He reached the final stop on Saturday, August 10.
"I always knew it was going to be difficult and I always expected the UK would be the hardest because there are a lot of hills," he told the Gazette. "But I did it and it was amazing that I didn't get a single puncture. It went very smooth and I got there in one piece.
"I'm happy I've done but it don't feel pride," added the humble student. "I don't feel that it was personal. It was always for Tim."
With the exception of three nights spent at a friend's and a youth hostel, Richard chose to camp in a very small tent throughout the gruelling challenge.
The journey across the continent was also the perfect way for Richard, who realised as soon as he moved to Scandinavia, that cycling would be the only way for him to travel to and from university each day, to take his bike home.
Tim, from Dawlish Warren, spent the majority of his time in traction in hospital in both Exeter or Birmingham, in traction. Before he died he had to undergone four operations and had to have one of his legs amputated.
Through adversity and pain, the 21-year-old showed incredible resilience and remained optimistic he would beat the disease, return to Swansea University and go back to playing basketball, this time as part of wheelchair team.
Richard's mother Glenys told the Gazette: "When we went to Denmark to collect his things, he said he would ride home.
"We offered to be there and help him, but he did it solo. We are very proud of him."
The young man has so far collected an impressive £2,200, more than doubling his initial target.
To make a donation in memory of Tim visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/denmarktodevon
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