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Hand bike challenge to help end heartbreak

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Family and friends of a much-loved mother and grandmother from Capel Hendre in Ammanford are taking part in a 10-mile sponsored hand-bike and walking challenge in her memory after she passed away suddenly having suffered a heart attack last October.

Nest Davies was thought to have been in good health, so her passing was a huge shock in her close-knit community.

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Sunday February 20th would have been her 67th birthday, so Nest’s friend and former colleague Lisa Pudner decided to celebrate her life, and support research into heart conditions, by raising money for the British Heart Foundation.

Lisa, 56, from Llanelli, is a former Paralympian who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

Lisa Pudner with Nest Davies and grandson Gwion (Image: Paul Russell/Lisa Pudner)

She says, “I first met Nest in 1986 when we worked together at the path lab reception in West Wales General Hospital. I’d started the year before and we worked together until I left in 1990. We were best friends and she supported me when I was fundraising to get to the Sydney Paralympics in 2000.”

The friends shared many happy memories, and Lisa says she came up with the challenge to show how much her friend meant to her.

She recalls, “In 1989, she helped me organise a concert to fundraise for my racing wheelchair at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen. Wynne Evans and his brother sang there as part of the youth theatre and it was the start of my 12-year journey in Paralympic sport.”

Through the years they friends stayed in close contact, helping each other through life’s challenges, and Lisa says she last saw her friend at Folly Farm for a day out, just a month before she passed away.

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Lisa adds, “I want to raise as much money as possible in Nest’s memory, because she was a wonderful friend, who supported me so much through the years. We’re doing this for the BHF because they fund research into heart conditions, and we want to stop other families and friends losing loved ones in the future.”

Lisa now works for Carmarthenshire County Council as the Disability Sport Wales Development Officer for Carmarthenshire. The challenge will see Lisa and Nest’s family and friends setting off at 1030am and taking on a difficult 10-mile route from North Dock, Llanelli, to Burry Port, and back.

Lisa says, “It’s a tough route, with lots of uphill sections, so I’m training hard.”

Nest with son Rhydian (Image: Paul Russell/Lisa Pudner)

Lisa will be using her hand-cycle, and will be joined by Nest’s son Rhydian, who has hired a hand-cycle to ride alongside her.

Lisa says, “I’ve known Rhydian since he was four-years-old, so it means a lot to have him on this challenge with me.”

Rhydian’s wife Alex and four-year-old son Gwion are also taking part, along with Lisa’s sister Trudy, brother-in-law Duncan and friends, Nesta Davies, and Hayley Williams who will travel the route on foot, with their dogs, Hayley’s Labrador Larry, and Lisa’s Cavachon Murry.  

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Son Rhydian, grandson Gwion and. daughter-in-law Alex with Nest (Image: Paul Russell/Lisa Pudner)

Paul Russell, 68, was Nest’s partner, having met her in 1990. Paul says Nest’s loss was devastating for everyone who knew her, “My family who live in England had known Nest for over 20 years and were totally shocked when they heard. My brother who knew how much she was enjoying her newly retired life with her grandson said that they all loved her, and she was much more than a sister-in-law and aunt to his family. He went on to say that life can be unfair, but this was very cruel, and she will be sorely missed.”

Paul adds, “There is a long history of heart problems in our family, so we are very aware of the importance of continued research.”

Paul, Lisa’s parents Yvonne and John and BHF fundraising manager Jayne Lewis will provide support to the team at the start and end of the challenge. Fundraising started on 7thJanuary, and the JustGiving page has already raised over £900 for the BHF.

Nest Davies with sister Sylvia (Image: Paul Russell/Lisa Pudner)

Head of BHF Cymru, Adam Fletcher says, “We are so grateful for Nest’s family and friends for supporting the BHF’s research at what will be a very emotional and challenging time for them all. For more than 60 years the public’s generosity has funded BHF research that has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into treatments and cures that save lives every day. But millions of people are still waiting for the next breakthrough.

“Today in Wales around 340,000 people are living with the daily burden of heart and circulatory diseases and dozens of families will lose loved ones to devastating heart diseases. We urgently need the public’s support to keep our life saving research going, and to discover the treatments and cures of the future. It is only with donations from the public that the BHF can keep its life saving research going, helping us turn science fiction into reality.”

You can follow Lisa’s progress and show support in memory of Nest at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisa-pudner

(Lead image: Paul Russell/Lisa Pudner)

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