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In July 2010 my mother found that she was finding it difficult to balance and was losing the fine control of her limbs. A degenerating spinal condition was suspected, and after being rushed through various checks and consultations by her doctors and specialists in Harrogate, she was operated on in September but ended up almost paralysed from the waist down. Since then she has confounded the medical profession with her recovery, having regained almost all of her mobility, and is continuing to improve even now, but it looks possible that daily care of some sort or another may be a permanent part of her life – it had seemed a certainty just eight months ago. I had heard before this about The Carers’ Resource, a local charity which exists to support those who care for others – either in offering help, advice or support, or in cover or assistance so a carer can have a break or some time off, when they may in some cases be caring for someone every day for years! In this country there are six million carers of various types, mostly unpaid volunteers and often family members, and in many cases these people have only learned what they know of caring from having to do it themselves. The Carers’ Resource is a lifeline for these people and I would like to help raise their profile so that those who could benefit most can get to know about them, and to recognise the invaluable work they do.

I wanted to support an Icelandic charity in my trip as well but didn’t know of any. There seemed to be a few charities who worked in Iceland but I decided to ask my Icelandic friends if there was one they could recommend. In fact there was one which stood out very clearly – Ljósiđ, a meeting-place, support group and lifeline in its own right for cancer sufferers in Reykjavik. Then I heard that several members of Kvennakór Kópavogs had had contact with and help from this charity already, and I heard about the work they did in helping rebuild lives and mutually supporting fellow sufferers, and it seemed immediately clear that this was who I should support, and that by doing so I would be giving something back to the people of Iceland. It gave me focus and drive to know that any money I could raise, and every mile I cycled closer to achieving my goal of cycling all round Iceland, would be helping change lives at home for both me and for my Icelandic friends, just as mine has been changed by visiting Iceland. Thank you so much for your support – I hope you feel I’ve done it justice this summer!