More than £1,000 was raised by a group of cyclists from Weston College in memory of a loved colleague who died during a trip to Italy last year, writes Billy Camden.

The diabetes-related death of grandmother-of-two Heather Wood during a Weston College trip to Italy last year hit her construction colleagues hard.

The 53-year-old resource-based learning coordinator at the college’s construction and engineering centre of excellence (CECE), where she had worked for 15 years, was a “popular” workmate — and one whose unexpected death resulted in a charity bike ride.

Thirty five cyclists — made up of former colleagues, friends and relatives, including husband Dave Wood, who works at CECE as a technician — raised more than £1,000 in aid of Diabetes UK.

They travelled from CECE along Weston Seafront and on to Sand Bay, then back through Worle, Weston-super-Mare.

“It was hard work but very worthwhile. It is a great charity to give to and I’m sure Heather was looking down on us and laughing as she watched us set off,” said Mr Wood.

“It means a lot to me that the people here would do this in her memory.”

Heather Wood

On the day of the ride, staff and fellow riders loosened their muscles with a workout at the nearby Virgin Active fitness club. The journey was then officially started by Weston College principal Dr Paul Phillips.

CECE staff are now planning several more fundraising challenges for Diabetes UK, including a ‘Tough Mudder’ obstacle event and the possibility of a longer bike ride later in the year.

Mr Wood said: “This is the start of a number of fundraising events and it’s very touching.

“Heather was very popular at college and people were shocked by the suddenness of her death.

“If people really knew how hugely diabetes affects someone I am sure a lot more would be done to fund research into finding a cure.”

Ben Hodder, carpentry lecturer and one of the event organisers, said: “It was a cold day and quite hard-going, especially the bit from the seafront to Sand Bay, but we battled on and up to now we’ve raised £1,381.20 for Diabetes UK, which is a fantastic amount.

“Heather was an incredible person and highly valued member of our team. Her sudden death was a massive blow to all who work and learn here.

“We’re delighted to have raised so much money for Diabetes UK and on behalf of everyone I’d like to thank all those who donated and made it happen.”

CECE lecturer Matt Postins, who is also the regional chair of the Guild of Bricklayers, said: “I was going to give my old bones a rest this year, but after the tragic events that unfolded on our recent Italy trip I just felt compelled to do my little bit in memory of a truly unique and wonderful lady.

“Heather touched the lives of so many people, be it friends, colleagues and of course students.”

Visit to donate to the charity effort.

Main Pic: The team of cyclists from Weston College ready for their ride in memory of colleague Heather Wood. Her Husband Dave Woods, is front centre-left.