Cycle ride is a touching tribute to much-loved dad

MEMORIES Nikki Hillier on her wedding day with her dad Robin, left, husband Simon Hillier and mum Jackie
MEMORIES Nikki Hillier on her wedding day with her dad Robin, left, husband Simon Hillier and mum Jackie
Shukrya Saida signs up for further information and vouchers, helped by Shona Green. Picture: Vernon Nash

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LINKING arms with her father as he escorted her down the aisle is a memory Nikki Hillier will treasure forever.

Her father Robin Smith, 70, was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in October 2010.

He was given months to live and so Nikki, of St Andrews Road, Southsea, and her then fiance Simon Hillier, organised their wedding in just five weeks so Robin could be there.

Nikki, 33, said: ‘Because of my dad’s deteriorating health, I knew we were running out of time. I could never imagine getting married without my dad being beside me. We managed to arrange our wedding in just five weeks, so my dad was able to give me away.’

The couple had a small ceremony in Liphook surrounded by close friends and family.

Nikki, who works for an airline cabin crew, said: ‘My dad was the proudest man walking me down the aisle, and I was the happiest girl.

‘The day was the happiest day of our lives, however it was marred by sadness as we all knew it was the last time the family was going to be together.’

Soon after the wedding Robin’s health began to deteriorate and the family started getting help from the Rowans Hospice.

Robin stayed at the Purbrook hospice several times before he passed away in June this year.

‘My mum Jackie was an incredible carer to my dad, having to take time off work for several months,’ added Nikki.

‘Dad was in the Rowans for a few weeks, and the care he received from all the staff was outstanding, and we as a family will be eternally grateful to all the kind staff and volunteers who do such a great job for patients and their families at such a difficult time.’

To show their appreciation, the family, along with friends, will all be taking part in the Ruby Ride this Sunday to raise money for the hospice.

There are four cycle courses to choose from, which start at 9am from Lakeside in North Harbour:

· Fun – a 3.5-mile route to the Mountbatten Centre.

· Leisure – an 18-mile route around Portsea Island.

· Challenge – about 30 miles, which includes Portsdown Hill.

· Epic – 60 mile route up to Petersfield and returning through the Meon Valley.

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ALMOST 400 people will be saddling up this Sunday to take part in the first Ruby Ride.

Sponsored cyclists can choose from four different routes, with money raised being donated to the Rowans Hospice.

Ali Corbett, events fundraiser, said: ‘Everyone here is very excited about our first cycle challenge – The Ruby Ride.

‘This event appeals to all the family as we have four great routes suitable for all ages and abilities.’

The hospice hopes to raise around £50,000.