A senior BP accounting manager who lost her right eye due to eye cancer will join 65 current and former colleagues on a coast to coast cycle to raise money for the charity which supported her before and after her diagnosis.
The route covers 250 miles, and over 5,000 meters of ascent, between Ayr and Aberdeen in three days over the Jubilee weekend.
Katie Butler felt inspired by the community spirit of her company’s annual fundraising event and wanted to do something similar after moving to BP in October 2018.
The money she raises will go to Aberdeen based cancer charity Maggie’s, which was a huge support to her, with any money raised by BP employees being matched by the BP Foundation.
Ms Butler said: “While welcoming home the riders from the 2019 Coast 2 Coast challenge on a beautiful May day I thought I’d love to do something like that. There was such a celebratory atmosphere and it was a real team event.”
A few weeks later she was diagnosed with eye cancer and her plans went on hold whilst she spent six months recovering from surgery, treatment and adjusting to life with no sight on her right side and having an artificial eye.
After returning to work in 2020, Ms Butler started cycling during the Covid-19 lockdown and when the office opened again, BP organised a sign-up event for the 2022 bike ride.
With some encouragement from colleagues, she joined the challenge and nominated Maggie’s Aberdeen as one of the four local charities riders could fundraise for.
She had already been involved with fundraising for Maggie’s nationally but wanted to raise awareness of the work they do for people affected by cancer in Aberdeen, adding:
“Before I had my diagnosis, I didn’t know who to turn to, it’s not one of the big cancers. I knew about Maggie’s because one of my team recommended them, I went down there and it was such a safe place, I was so welcomed. People helped explain what might happen to me and it was Maggie’s I went to for pre and post operative counselling.
“Whilst my diagnosis and treatment took place in Glasgow, it was Maggie’s Aberdeen that helped me deal with cancer and to heal. Maggie’s was a beautiful space that provided support for myself and my family. It taught me how to live with cancer.”
After learning to walk again with confidence, the 250-mile cycle is the first time Ms Butler has taken on something as physically challenging.
There has been a rigorous training regime, which has entailed cycling increasingly long distances each week of up to 106km in preparation for the three-day ride.
‘Exactly what I hoped it would be’
Explaining how challenging it has been to cycle with reduced peripheral vision, she said:
“Being blind on the roadside I wasn’t sure how I’d manage cycling alongside others, but I’ve taken suggestions from the team. I’ve got a radar on my bike now, I have a bike computer and I’ve got fitter and stronger. I’ve felt so included by my colleagues and its exactly what I hoped it would be when I spectated back in 2019.”
This is the 13th year the BP Coast 2 Coast bike ride has been running and since its inaugural ride across Scotland in 2008, cyclists have raised more than £1.8million for local charities, with the goal this year to hit the £2million mark.