Sarah Foo-Ryland lost her mum in some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable just three weeks before her wedding – but now she’s on a poignant mission to continue her legacy.
Adventurous and much-loved Doreen Collyer was tragically killed by a shark while she was diving in Western Australia last June.
Her death sparked an outpouring of grief around the world, as she had touched so many people’s lives throughout her long career.
A campaign to establish a scholarship in Doreen’s memory at Perth’s Edith Cowan University, where she worked as a lead lecturer, was immediately set up.
Now her daughter Sarah is preparing to undertake a mammoth challenge to raise enough money to fund the nursing scholarship for the next two years.
Sarah told The Chronicle she was on the final day of a 1,000 mile charity bike ride when she received the devastating news that her ‘hero’ had passed away.
“You can’t imagine the sheer devastation, shock and pain,” Sarah said.
“Those first few days are a blur but what did stand out for me was that a wonderful ex-student of Mum’s – Graham Last – was so devastated by her loss that he set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a scholarship in mum’s name.
“It honestly blew us all away; how could it do anything else. But again this is where I grab some strength. We knew our mum, sister, wife and friend was amazing but I had not realised the impact and influence she had on so very many people.
“As I said when I spoke at her funeral she was so inspiring not just to family and close friends but to thousands of others, and only in losing this have I been able to understand the depth of her kindness, compassion and love.”
Sarah, who runs a coaching company called Your Life Live It with her wife Amanda and splits her time between Portugal and New Zealand, will compete in the gruelling Ironman 70.3 in the Portuguese city of Cascais in September.
The challenge will comprise a 1.9km swim followed by a 90km bike ride, with a 21km run to finish.
Sarah, 36, is asking for donations to help make a difference to somebody’s life, just as her mum did.
“People may read this and know me, my family and mum and understand how hard mum worked and for those who are strangers, I ask you to donate even the tiniest amount as the scholarship is designed to help one person achieve their dream,” she said.
“Ask yourself if your child or loved one was sick, wouldn’t you want someone to care for them who had fought hard in difficult circumstances to achieve their dream, their passion of helping others, just like the wonderful woman I call mum?’
Sarah is chronicling her journey on the Facebook page A Daughter’s Pride.
If you would like to donate, click here.