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Ciara Lee

Ciara Lee

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race


Total raised so far£0.00

Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00


Raised offline: £0.00

My story

[p]“The race is 125 miles long and has 77 portages. The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, the next 55 miles are on the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning.” [/p][p]Here is a little video about why I am taking on this challenge with my friend Ollie: https://vimeo.com/318065552[/p][p]The last time I used this site, Eddy and I were training for the Ride London 100. Before that we were running the Dublin and Paris Marathons. It knocks me sideways when I remember that I am completing this challenge without Eddy. I am taking it on because Eddy is dead. [/p][p]At 6.45 am on 5th July, my husband kissed me and our son Seren Ying Hei goodbye and left for work. Seren was two years old. Just before he left, the three of us watched a little rabbit in the garden. We drank coffee and all said "I love you" right on cue. Eddy bounced off to work that day. He was looking forward to going kayaking that evening, and we were looking forward to continuing our idyllic summer living on our Dutch barge Navicula. Our life was utterly perfect. [/p][p][img][/img][/p][p]Less than half an hour later, Eddy had been thrown from his motorbike, hit by a van on the M4. The first I heard about the collision was nearly two hours later as I sat at my desk in Canary Wharf. A policeman called me and said my husband had been resuscitated at the roadside and that I need to get to St Mary's Hospital immediately. I remember it all so clearly. One giant inhalation, trying to find some oxygen to help me process the words he was saying. "We are very worried about a head injury, you need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible." [/p][p]I knew then what the outcome would be.[/p][p]What I didn't know was that I would be in so much shock, the neurosurgeon in charge would need to get down on the floor to tell me my perfectly healthy husband was going to die. I was unable to lift my head up from the floor, the thought of a life without Eddy was too much to take in. But Eddy had been hit so hard, his brain could not withstand the impact. [/p][p]I didn't know that it would take ten days for the necessary drugs to leave his system, so that the doctors could perform brain stem testing to confirm that the incredible mind I had fallen in love with was in fact dead. His brain had bled so much and been starved of so much oxygen, he would never wake up. He would never breathe for himself again, he would never get to look at his family again, we would never hold another conversation, he would never laugh again, smile again, the list is endless. I still add to it every day. How will Eddy never get to see Seren do this? How will he never get to see this view?[/p][p]I didn't know that I would need to sit next to Eddy for ten days, in so much shock that every time I went to talk to him, I would fall asleep. My body responded to shock by shutting down. Trying to talk to the person I loved most in the world, while he was wired up to machines and brain damaged felt so false. I knew Eddy had gone. [/p][p]While Eddy was in hospital I told people I would join his kayak club and learn to paddle. I said a lot of things while in shock, but this one stuck! At some point along this horrendous journey I made a decision to enter the Devizes to Westminster race. It's an endurance challenge that Eddy wanted us to complete together. 125 miles, non stop paddling, apart from running with the boat around 66 locks. I fobbed him off multiple times, something I will always regret. I miss taking on challenges with him. We were each other's biggest fans, and I find training on the river without him just so sad. [/p][p]Thankfully I am in capable hands pairing up with Ollie. A veteran of the race, he has taken part since 1973. He also manages to get me out training when I feel like I can't go on, that my ability to keep living has nearly been extinguished. And while the training is painful and at times gruelling, I just remind myself that Eddy is dead, he doesn’t get to complete this race. The physical pain will never be as bad as the pain of losing him.[/p][p]I would like to explain a little about why I am fundraising for Brake and RoadPeace, and what it’s like to lose someone in a road traffic collision. [/p][p]When you google Eddy’s name, the first thing to come up is a number of press articles about his death. It’s immediately followed by our local Parkrun results. Eddy Lee: 21 minutes, 28 seconds. That’s how black and white this situation is. Eddy went from being part of his local community’s Parkrun, to being a man killed on the M4. It is as blunt and painful as the reality that I now keep my marriage certificate with my husband’s death certificate. [/p][p]Eddy commuted to work one day a week. He worked from home four days so that he could be actively involved in our son’s life, and so that he could raise Seren bilingually. Seren’s first word was in fact Cantonese, not English - “Dan-chair”. It means bike.[/p][p]Eddy was an exceptional father. In return he was loved beyond measure. The pain for me is threefold. I have my own sadness to contend with, but I am also taking on the sadness for Eddy, for everything he is missing. When I try and count the days Eddy has missed so far, my mind can’t actually cope with it. It’s an incomprehensibly sad thought. [/p][p]I have also taken on sadness for Seren. For the sadness he isn’t old enough to understand yet. For the gravity of the situation he is unable to grasp. I stare at him with jealousy, that he is able to live completely in the present. He doesn’t look back on the past in sadness because he doesn’t know how to. So I do it for him. That sadness adding to the already crushing pain in my own chest. For my own broken heart. For my broken family. [/p][p]Seren has lost his second language almost over night. Soon he won’t be able to answer his grandparents when they speak to him in Cantonese. It won’t be long before he can’t understand them at all. Another blow. Another ripple of devastation in our shattered lives. [/p][p]And it’s not just our friends and family suffering. [/p][p]I recently attended a support group run by RoadPeace. Before I found it, I had started to feel quite isolated. I was reeling from what had happened, unable to grasp that Eddy has been killed. The disbelief is still strong, but I felt so much comfort being around other people who have suffered similar tragedies. I have also signed up to RoadPeace’s “befriender” service, where I get to speak to someone on the phone weekly who is a little further ahead on this journey.[/p][p]But ultimately what these two charities are trying to do make the roads safer so that less people are robbed of their lives in this way. [/p][p]Losing someone in a road traffic collision is VIOLENT and nearly always UNNECESSARY. Yet we have come to accept road traffic fatalities as something that just happens because there are lots of people using the roads. An inconvenience when motorways are closed and our journeys delayed. Here are some of my thoughts about road traffic offences...[/p][p]Eddy’s death was completely unnecessary and should never have happened.[/p][p]My peaceful husband suffered a violent death.[/p][p]His death has shattered countless lives. There are members of our families who will never fully recover from this.[/p][p]Many of the people killed on our roads every year are SAFE ROAD USERS and like Eddy were passionate about road safety. [/p][p]Eddy believed there was space for everyone on our roads, but NO SPACE for bad driving.[/p][p]There is an assumption among many drivers that it won’t happen to them. That if they use their phone or are distracted, if they tailgate or follow too close, exceed the speed limit, that their reactions will be quicker… Will they though? Is my son’s face not enough of a deterrent? [/p][p]A vehicle is a weapon. Our little boy has no daddy because one driver was not looking at the road. [/p][p]The charges and sentencing of driving offences are often insulting to families of the victims. They rarely act as a deterrent.[/p][p]Brake and RoadPeace are actively trying to reform the justice system, and help get justice for the people who have needlessly been killed. [/p][p]No 34 year old should have to stand in a funeral directors on a hot August day, staring at the tanned, muscular and otherwise healthy body of the most perfect person. I should not have had to say goodbye to someone who had so much to give to this world. Yet somehow I have to move on from this, and am hoping that by backing these two groups, I will find some comfort knowing that less families will have to endure this pain in the future.[/p][p]Eddy has been robbed of his life. I have been robbed of my life. Seren has been robbed of the childhood we imagined for him. Eddy’s grown up son Brandon, his niece Kayleigh and his nephew Calvin, have had to endure too much tragedy. Eddy’s parents, my parents, siblings and nephews, friends and colleagues all suffering the deepest feeling of loss... Because we have lost someone who made our lives better. [/p]
Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race image 1
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Personal Challenge Date

20 Apr 2019



Sep 6, 2019

Darcy Lambton

Hi Ciara, I was so so sorry to hear about Eddy and can barely imagine the profound sense of loss you have endured. No surprise though that you are raising money to help spare others. Take big care of yourself and your little one. Love Darcy.


plus £25.00 Gift Aid

May 6, 2019

Will Gault

Incredible effort Ciara!


plus £5.00 Gift Aid

Apr 28, 2019


Absolutely inspiring, Ciara. Thinking of you often. With love from Corinne (Pippa's mummy) xxx


plus £7.50 Gift Aid

Apr 27, 2019


You are incredible. So proud of you. 💗


plus £7.50 Gift Aid

Apr 26, 2019

Kass an Ali


plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Apr 24, 2019


Truly inspiring, Ciara - my thoughts are with you and Seren and your amazing sister Fin.


plus £37.50 Gift Aid

Apr 24, 2019

Eleanor Keymer

Apr 24, 2019

Liz and Nick Stainer

Awesome Ciara and Ollie! Well done x


plus £5.00 Gift Aid

Apr 24, 2019

Gerald and Lisa X

Congratulations Ciara unbelievable achievement


plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Apr 23, 2019


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