Cowfold woman cycles for charity close to her heart

JPCT 211013 Helen Hankins 25, is severely epileptic and is taking part in a 3 mile bike ride around Tilgate Park in aid of Riding for the Disabled. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 211013 Helen Hankins 25, is severely epileptic and is taking part in a 3 mile bike ride around Tilgate Park in aid of Riding for the Disabled. Photo by Derek Martin
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A Cowfold woman with severe epilepsy defied her disability and ‘inspired’ her family by completing a charity bike ride, despite suffering seizures the night before.

Helen Hankins, 25, and carer Mo Hussain used a specially adapted bicycle to ride three miles around Tilgate Park in Crawley on Saturday (October 19).

Helen has raised more than £700 for Riding for the Disabled, a nationwide charity with a base at The Chestnuts Riding School near Brighton, that gives disabled people the opportunity to ride horses.

She said she was happy and excited about the challenge, with further donations to the charity expected.

She said: “I am doing it to raise money for children to go horse riding, I love going.”

The extent of Helen’s disability made the task a very difficult one.

But the support of Helen’s family and friends, who ran alongside her during the challenge, helped her to finish the cycle.

Helen’s mother Maria Dunkley said: “I am inspired by her - to think there is this young girl who has severe epilepsy and she wants to do something for herself and other people, which I think is really good for people with disabilities.

“The family have been very supportive, and Mo and the carers have been amazing getting her to where she is.

“She was up three times last night seizuring but got up with a smile on her face.”

The specially adapted bike, which allowed Mo to sit alongside Helen and help her complete the challenge, was sponsored by Crawley Lions.

Helen’s twin sister Katie Hankins said the family is ‘very proud’, and praised her sister’s positive attitude.

She said: “She deals with an awful lot and she has fits all day every day, and at night.

“She gets through all of it but she comes up with all these ideas to help other people.

“I love her to pieces and I am very proud of her.”

Younger sister Holly Dunkley, 14, added: “She has done very well and we are all over the moon for her.”

A large crowd gathered to watch Helen complete the challenge including her boyfriend Chris.

In the UK, 600,000 or one in every 13 people has epilepsy, and just over half are seizure-free. Only three per cent of patients are affected by flashing lights.