CYCLING was a great passion of Dukinfield’s Louise Harrott who was tragically killed in Oldham doing the thing she loved most.
It was fitting therefore that Saddleworth Clarion Cycling Club, of which Louise, 43, was an active member, led her funeral cortege through Tameside.
Twenty-seven members rode in their club colours at the front and behind the hearse with Louise’s coffin draped with a Clarion banner as relatives and friends said their final farewell to the much-loved mother-of-one, described as the ‘fabric of the family’.
It left Barton Villa, the family hotel she had run in Dukinfield for the last 14 years and drove past her former schools, St Mary’s RC Primary and All Saints High School to the service at Stalybridge Congregational Church where riders wearing black arm bands formed a guard of honour to pay their respects to their beloved team member as well as at the gates to Dukinfield Crematorium.
Some of her ashes will be scattered at Nont Sarah’s in Yorkshire, one of her favourite rides, where she loved the long, steady, climb up Buckstones hill and the reward of the stunning view at the top.
Law graduate Louise, who took over the running of the hotel from her mum Doreen, fell in love with road cycling eight years ago, joining Clarion a year later.
She quickly progressed and trained to a high standard, riding in the Peak District, Cheshire plains, Yorkshire and Wiltshire as well as up the Mount Teidi volcano in Tenerife.
Louise’s mum Doreen McGivern, 72, said: “Louise’s love and loyalty knew no bounds. She was the fabric of the family and the person that held everything together.
“There was nothing more important in her life than her son, her two brothers, her aunt, her best friend, employees and her Clarion family.
“She had a true sense of belonging with her cycling team.
“She was happiest out riding and socialising with her friends in sunshine or rain.”
Louise’s greatest cycling moment was in May 2019 when she undertook the Fred Whitton challenge, a gruelling 183.57km ride with an elevation of 3,282 metres, completing it in eight hours 31 minutes.
Clarion chairman Dave Watson added: “Louise’s death will be grieved not only by her family and friends but by the 100-plus members of the cycling club to which she devoted so much of her time.
“She had an impressive determination on the bike and was an extremely experienced cyclist, taking part in events throughout the north, covering distances of up to and beyond 100 miles.
“She will be missed by her cycling comrades everywhere.”
Louise was cycling in Lees on Wednesday, March 24 when she was involved in a crash with a black Range Rover at the junction of Huddersfield Road and Stamford Road.
She was airlifted to Manchester Royal Infirmary for surgery, but her condition deteriorated, and she died on the morning of Thursday, March 25.
The driver of the Range Rover remained at the scene and assisted police with their enquiries. No arrests were made.
An inquest into Louise’s death was opened and adjourned at Rochdale Coroners’ Court on Monday, April 12.
The court heard Louise was riding along Huddersfield Road when a vehicle turned across her path at the junction with Stamford Road, causing her to collide with it.
Louise’s family and friends do not want her death to be in vain as they learnt that this is the second fatality at the location and, as they say their final farewell, they are launching a campaign called Louise’s Legacy to help improve road safety.
In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations to their chosen charity Cycling UK at louise-harrott.muchloved.com and which so far has raised more than £1,750.
They are calling on Oldham Council and its highways department to improve road layout and introduce traffic calming measures at the site.
They are also requesting Greater Manchester Combined Authority, run by the leaders of the 10 councils and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham to look at areas including transport, to introduce better road sharing education to complement the £1.6m investment in cycling infrastructure being rolled out in Greater Manchester through its Bee Network.
Doreen said: “We’re launching this important campaign for the love of Louise.
“We’re getting more and more people riding bikes, especially now post-Covid, everyone is being encouraged to take it up.
“We’ve got to find ways to make it safer though. Mutual respect and consideration between all road users is key.
“We can all be more mindful when we drive, ride or walk to look out for each other’s safety.”
Nick Chamberlin, policy manager at national governing body British Cycling, said: “No one should have to be brave just to go for a bike ride.
“No-one’s family and friends should have to worry about whether a loved one might be hurt or killed just because they like, or have to, cycle.
“Louise’s tragic death is symptomatic of a road network that designs driving as the first priority over cyclists and pedestrians.”
He added: “Oldham Council and every council in the country must look with urgency at measures to make their roads safer for everyone, designing out lethal junctions and dangerous road layouts so that other families don’t suffer the same pain and heartache.”
An Oldham Council spokesman said: “Oldham Council was very saddened to hear about the death of Louise Harrott and our thoughts are with her family and friends at what must be a very distressing time.
“Our staff liaised with colleagues from GMP following the incident and a report is being prepared as part of the inquest into Louise’s death. This hearing has been opened and adjourned so until it is concluded it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
A Transport for Greater Manchester spokeswoman said: “We were extremely saddened to hear about Louise Harrott’s tragic death.
“Transport for Greater Manchester continues to works in partnership with the 10 Greater Manchester councils as part of Safer Roads Greater Manchester.”
*Photos thanks to Diana MacCarthy