Chippenham park laps in tribute to rider’s lost sister

This Is Wiltshire: Maya Edwards with her parents Caron and Alistair and younger sister Isla Maya Edwards with her parents Caron and Alistair and younger sister Isla

A six-year-old who learnt to ride a bike only a year ago has cycled 10km in memory of her big sister.

Maya Edwards was 10 months old when she lost her two-year-old sister, Bethan, to spinal muscular atrophy. The degenerative illness is incurable and affects the muscles and breathing.

Her father, Alistair, said that – even at that young age – her sister had left a lasting impression on Maya. She would often pick up Bethan’s picture and point upstairs to go and see her.

Six years on, Caron and Alistair Edwards are remembering their firstborn and keeping research into the condition going by raising funds for the Jennifer Trust.

Maya, who goes to By Brook Valley Primary School in Yatton Keynell, asked her parents out of the blue if she could do a sponsored cycle for her sister.

She raised £650 by doing 20 laps of John Coles Park in 90 minutes on Saturday.

She was cheered on by her little sister, Isla, three, and their parents, both 42, of Yewstock Crescent in Chippenham.

Mr Edwards, who works for Natural England, said: “She really put her heart into it. We are so very proud Maya chose to do this off her own back, especially on her small child’s bike. We know her big sister would be proud of her too. Maya only remembers Bethan through photographs and videos now, although she is often in conversation and we always celebrate Bethan’s birthday and do something for the charity which helped her in her short life.

“Shortly after her birth, Bethan’s muscles began to stop working, first her legs, then her arms and then the muscles which helped her breathe.

“As a family we will continue to fundraise for the Jennifer Trust to support other children with SMA and their families and hopefully in the future find a cause for this cruel disease.”

Bethan was just three months old when her parents were told she had the genetic condition, which affects one in 6,000 babies in Britain. Although it is still relatively unheard of, as many as 1 in 40 of the population carries the affected gene.

Donations to Bethan’s cycle fundraiser can be made at www.jtsma.org.uk/Cycle%20Laps%20for%20Bethan

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