Sara Braidwood, Breeze Champion, was the winner of the Unsung Heroine Award at the inaugural Total Women's Cycling Awards in February 2014 at The London Bike Show. She was nominated by our readers, and selected from a shortlist by a prestigious judging panel of women in the cycling industry.
Her passion and drive to encourage more women into cycling shone out, and it's clear that she has continued to make a huge difference to the lives of women across the UK.
"It was a great honour to be nominated and win the Unsung Cycling Heroine award at the first Total Women’s Cycling Awards at the London Bike Show in February this year. Since winning this award it has opened so many doors for me in cycling.
Until 3 years ago I hadn’t really been on a bike since my teenage years (over 30 years ago). I kept making barriers. For example I didn’t have the time, confidence, or clothes! My bike, an old Woolworths one in shed, wasn’t right. Or what if I got a puncture when I was out?
The Breeze program, which aims to get more ladies out on their bikes, was mentioned to me by my mentor in NHS Public Health. Since I’d entered a competition at work to commute in a different way, I thought I would give both a go. One: cycle to work via the Liverpool Mersey ferry boat, and two: look into what Breeze was about.
A couple of months later I was trained to cycle leader Level 1 and I enjoyed the training that Breeze gave me. It also increased my confidence. I enjoy working with people and being outdoors and this was the perfect opportunity for both, planning the rides in advance all the time to fit into my work/home life and now also my cycling life.
Initially I did the rides in Merseyside and the success was amazing. I have now done nearly 150 rides and more recently over 50 rides in the Cheshire Area. I now work with Active Cheshire for 15 hours a week.
I have set up my own company, Sara Cycles, and have already planned and delivered some cycling holidays for ladies for this year, with plans for more for 2015.
One of the recent projects I was involved in was helping ladies to ride and gain confidence at a Women’s hostel in Birkenhead. Everyone enjoyed the weekly sessions, and to see the ladies grow in confidence and fitness was wonderful. One young lady went on to do her own cycle leader training so she can continue providing the sessions for the other ladies there. The bikes were donated by the local Police and once they were fit to ride, off we all went each week for 8 weeks and this still continues.
I’ve seen so many ladies increase their confidence, their fitness and enjoyment through being out on their bikes. I’ve seen ladies losing weight, getting fitter, overcoming depression, bereavement and gaining confidence in cycle maintenance from attending workshops I have provided with local bike shops in Cheshire and Merseyside.
I look forward each week to reading the latest news from Total Women’s Cycling with all the useful tips and training suggestions along with bicycle gift ideas. After winning the award back in February I purchased a new road bike and just love being out on it. Since getting the bike in April, I’ve travelled nearly 1,000 miles, not bad for someone who only started cycling in her late 40’s
The friends and enthusiastic colleagues I have met along the away makes me realise just how lucky I am and doing something I love to do and to share with others. Engaging young people is really important to me and this is something I have been involved in my daughter’s school. It was a pleasure to present and let them know all about Breeze and cycling.
I was lucky to be nominated and won the Ian Tordoff Services to Sport award in March at the Sports Cheshire award evening, and was presented with a silver cup from British Paralympic Gold medal winner Mark Goulbourne. It was a wonderful night to remember along with happy memories from February at the Total Women’s Cycling awards evening.
Later in the year I was also nominated for the work I have done for cycling in Cheshire at the prestigious Sport Cheshire and Warrington awards evening and was presented a trophy from 'Beth' Kimberly Tweddle MBE, the British former artistic gymnast who is the most successful British gymnast, male or female, in the history of the sport.
It’s been a wonderful, exciting and adventurous 6 months of my life and long may it continue!"
We'll be launching the 2015 Total Women's Cycling Awards in the near future, so watch this space! It's your chance to nominate the people, places, organisations and businesses that you feel have supported women's cycling over the last year.
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