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Record-breaking cyclist from Bideford care home passes away aged 100

By NDJFran  |  Posted: May 23, 2014

Billie passed away aged 100.

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A WOMAN who cycled almost 30,000 miles around the UK in 1938 passed away shortly after her 100th birthday.

Billie Fleming, who lived at Care South’s Kenwith Castle care home in Bideford, passed away on May 12 after a short illness.

The Journal ran a story about Lilian ‘Billie’ Fleming, as she was known, just four days earlier which talked about her passion for cycling.

When she was 24 Billie set off on a challenge to cycle every day for a year to highlight the health benefits of the sport.

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She rode an amazing 29,604 miles in 1938, setting a women’s record.

Billie’s stepson, Peter Samwell, paid tribute to her life.

“My wife and I had spent the time with her since her fall and were with her at the end,” he said. “Billie had so wanted to reach 100 years old and she passed that milestone but sadly her bike ride of life finished just one month later.

“She was a remarkable woman who had achieved so much in her lifetime including riding 29,604 miles around the UK in 1938 to set a still unbeaten world record.

“She did it not to break a record but because she believed passionately in cycling and wanted to show people how cycling could be great source of fitness, and even today she still inspires others to take up this sport.”

In 1938 Billie was the ‘Rudge Whitworth Keep Fit Girl’ and a 41-year-old mum wrote to Billie last week, not knowing that she had passed away, to say how she had been inspired by Billie and saw her as the original ‘Girl Power’.

“A self-effacing woman about her achievements, Billie could have asked for no better epitaph than that,” said Mr Samwell.

“Billie is now reunited with her beloved husband, my father, George Fleming, another famous cyclist, who died in 1997.”

Her funeral will be on June 3 at 2.20pm at the North Devon Crematorium and the family have asked for donations to The Cornwall Leukaemia Trust in lieu of flowers as George died of leukaemia.

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