A public health expert who lost her brother to heart disease is gearing up to ride coast-to-coast across the US to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
Jill Pell, Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow, will set off on May 7 to cycle 3,500 miles from Los Angeles to Boston.
Professor Pell, who is also head of the School of Health and Wellbeing at the university, will cover 85 miles a day on average as she passes through 15 states.
With a long-standing interest in research into preventing heart disease and stroke, Professor Pell has been a trustee of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) since 2020.
The 59-year-old said: “Sadly, we know the distress heart and circulatory diseases can cause.
“My brother Paul suffered two minor strokes then died suddenly from heart disease, leaving my parents devastated.
“The BHF is funding research to keep families together for longer and that is why their work is so important.”
BHF said that in Scotland nearly 50 people die each day from heart and circulatory diseases, which affect around 700,000 people.
The forthcoming coast-to-coast bike ride is not the first cycling challenge that Professor Pell has taken on in aid of the BHF.
In 2021, to mark the charity’s 60th birthday, she helped organise and took part in the BHF Tour De Research, which saw scores of BHF-funded researchers swapping their laboratories for the open road on their bikes, raising £20,000.
She said: “I’m not going to lie, it has been hard at times. When the weather is cold and wet, it can be a real effort to get out there and clock up those training miles.
“But you just have to get your head down and do it and keep telling yourself it will all be worth it in the end.”
She added: “I am a bit worried about cycling through the desert in New Mexico and Arizona as it might be a bit too hot for a Scot. But I am looking forward to meeting locals along the route.
“Travelling slowly gives you a chance to really see a country and meet interesting characters, which helps to take your mind off the pedalling. I have also ordered some solid ‘espresso shots’ to carry which will hopefully give me a turbo charge if I start flagging.
“It will be a huge challenge, especially at 59 years of age, but knowing that the donations will help to save lives will be great motivation to keep pedalling.”
Professor Pell has already raised more than £3000 before even setting off on her adventure and anyone wishing to donate can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/page/jill-pell-1x-usa-charity-bike-ride-grcode
David McColgan, head of BHF Scotland, said: “There really is no stopping Jill when she sets her mind to a challenge.
“She’s already clocked up many miles raising money for the BHF, but this is her most ambitious challenge to date.
“We wish her all the very best and of course will be with her in spirit for every one of those three and a half thousand miles.”
The BHF funds around £100 million of research each year into all heart and circulatory diseases and the things that cause them.