23/05/07 Stuart starts Gruelling Ride

Most spouses remember the moment they met the person they knew they would marry.

But few mark this anniversary like Stuart Andrews, who will cycle 110 miles, off-road, in just one day.

But for Squadron Leader Andrews (39), an RAF Waddington serviceman, this is just part of a daunting healing process.

He lost his wife Heather (40) two months ago – a month before the couple’s 17th wedding anniversary.

His cycle ride, from Winchester to Eastbourne is on June 16 – 19 years after he met her in a Lincoln nightclub.

With Heather, who battled breast cancer for four-and-a half years, he had two children Steven (13) and Jonathan (11).

“As a family you experience a range of emotions,” said Sqdn Ldr Andrews. “You feel everything is beyond your control. I wanted do something that, even though it can’t help Heather, could make a difference to someone else.”

Sqdn Ldr Andrews, who works for the base’s quality and continuous improvement section, has cycled 200 miles a week – 60 on Saturdays – to prepare. He deliberately chose a tough off-road route with a 10,000m descent, harsh terrain and awkward stiles.

“It’s rocky, rutted and unpleasant,” he said. “But I wanted something challenging and I wanted to do it in a day – that particular day.”

Heather was a radiographer at Lincoln County Hospital where she returned for treatment after being diagnosed.

She discovered the lump while the family from Fiskerton were in Italy, where Sqdn Ldr Andrews served.

Steven, who attends William Farr School in Welton and Jonathan, a Nettleham Junior School pupil, will follow their father in their grandfather’s car with lots of spare parts.

Sqdn Ldr Andrews, who hopes to raise £10,000 for Cancer Research UK and St Barnabas Hospice, also wants to raise awareness.

“It was completely out of the blue when Heather found this lump. But if she hadn’t found it when she did we might not have had those four years together,” he said.

“Anyone who has concerns should check them out.”

RAF Waddington station commander Group Captain Andy Fryer said: “Sqdn Ldr Andrews’ project is an excellent example of how a positive thread can be drawn from a deep personal tragedy.

“We wish him well and hope he wears well-padded shorts.”