Farmer Becci Berry has carried the Olympic Flame on part of its epic 70-day relay.
The Wiltshire woman was chosen as one of 8,000 “truly inspirational” torchbearers, having lost her 34-year-old husband, Richard, to bowel cancer last year and her brother to leukaemia in 2002.
The local community around Coleshill in Wiltshire turned out in force last week to support Becci, who was nominated by family friend Colin Harris to take part in the flame’s journey, which will take it through more than 1,000 UK cities, towns and villages ahead of the Olympics.
“With two beautiful young daughters, we thought life was perfect, which it was – but our world fell apart when Rich was diagnosed with cancer,” says Becci.
“However, I am very determined to carry out his dream and have taken on our herd and farm in partnership with my wonderful mother- and father-in-law.
“It’s been a steep learning curve that has seen me do all sorts from semen-handling to passing my PA2 last year. We still run a 170-cow unit, have continued with the cross-breeding programme Rich started and have recently taken on a new herdsman.
“Among all the farming, two things are still my priorities – my daughters, Martha and Jasmine, and raising the awareness of cancer and the research and support that helps others through the hell it brings.”
Becci’s local Young Farmers Club, Faringdon, recently raised more than £12,000 for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Oxford by walking the 87-mile Ridgeway route in 48 hours.
“I am honoured and proud of what they achieved,” she says. “It was a huge feat and one that saw more than 80 people turn up to walk the last six miles and brought a huge farming community and several generations of Young Farmers together.”
Over the years, her friends and family have also helped raise over £40,000 for Leukaemia Research.