Magnificent Mally clocks up seven weeks in the saddle – for toilets
A 60-year-old cyclist from Mull has reached the end of her 1,650-mile tour of Britain – raising enough money to twin more than 45 toilets overseas.
Mally Gower has been in the saddle for seven weeks, leaving The Lizard in Cornwall on August 27 – and reaching Dunnet Head in Caithness on Monday and John ‘o Groats at midday yesterday.
Her tour, to mark her 60th birthday this month, has taken in all four of Britain’s furthest compass points, including Ness Point (Lowestoft) and Ardnamurchan Point.
Her achievement is all the more inspiring because Mally is waiting for a hip replacement. She was knocked off her bike by a car in 2012. Though friends and her husband Richard have joined her for sections of the journey, most of the journey she has travelled alone.
Mally, a basket-maker and former nurse, has raised at least £2,700 for charity campaign Toilet Twinning which provides proper toilets, clean water and hygiene education in poor nations. The cause has been close to her heart after having to rely on public toilets for weeks.
‘I’ve thought a lot on my journey about people in countries like India where they don’t have toilets,’ says Mally. ‘Some days have been worse than others for toilets and sometimes, on quiet roads, I’ve had to nip behind a tree. It’s made me think about what other people have to put up with.’
The high points, she says, have been the kindness of strangers who have guided her, fed her or put her up for the night. ‘It’s restored my faith in people: there are a lot of good people out there.’
The low points have been few and far between, but have generally been wrong turns, high winds and steep hills, especially in Scotland. ‘When I reached Ardnamurchan, I could actually see Mull and I had to fight the urge to go home. But once I’d turned my back on it, I was fine because I knew I was on the home strait.
‘I’ve had to tackle one day at a time and that has helped me get through. I’ve planned each day’s cycling the previous night. It’s not good to know what’s ahead of you in life!’
Mally and husband Richard will drive home today and take the late-afternoon ferry back from Oban to Mull. But Mally is determined to cycle the last few miles home from the ferry. ‘It was such a nice day when we reached John o’Groats that I didn’t want to get off my bike. I’m looking forward to being home in Mull and spending more than one night in the same bed. But I’m already thinking: what next?’
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says: ‘Mally is a thoroughly inspiring woman with steely determination and a huge heart. By helping to raise money so families in poor communities can have a toilet, she has quite literally changed the lives of many, many people forever. We can’t thank her enough.’