Raynes Park Couple Are Head-Over-Wheels

Gary and Lisa tie the knot during cycle festival

Forget the big white dress and dapper suit, a fun-loving couple from Raynes Park donned lycra and bike shoes for their big day after opting to get married in the RideLondon cycle festival.

Gary Watson, aged 44, and Lisa Russell, 41, (right) exchanged vows on Sunday (August 10) on the same day as tackling the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.

Having first met while travelling around Australia in 1996, the pair are no strangers to racking up the miles on the bike, with Iceland and Norway just some of the places they have cycled through.

However the idea for the special day came about through a friend who joked that they should get hitched during the ride if they were successful in getting places.

Rather than back out when their places were confirmed, Gary and Lisa duly forged ahead and chose Richmond Park’s Pembroke Lodge as the convenient detour from their 100-mile challenge.

"It's all a bit silly really, we were joking with our friends that we would get married while riding around London if we got a place," said Lisa.

"And when we eventually got a place we were like, 'ok this is happening now, we can't go back.'

"I don't really care about my hair being a mess on the day, I'm the sort of person who is happy with it up in a ponytail. It will be a case of doing it as quick as possible and then getting back on the bike and finishing the 100 mile challenge.

"I will be more nervous on the day about seeing our five-year-old daughter Betsy at the ceremony, waiting with our rings. I think our friends are going to meet up on Box Hill with some champagne. Knowing us we will finish and then just want to go to the pub with friends and family. We just like to have fun and this will certainly be a way to remember things."

Graphic designer Gary and Lisa, assistant director and expedition leader at The Ultimate Travel Company, are not making it all about themselves either as they will also be riding to raise money in memory of their friend’s daughter Isla Cecil, who passed away aged 15 months in November 2012 from a rare brain tumour.

More than £5 million has been raised for the Isla Cecil Brighter Future Fund with Lisa, who herself has a long association with charity work, insisting it was an easy decision to raise money for such a cause.

"Isla passed away when she was just 15 months old, and since then her parents and family have been just an inspiration in the work they have been doing,” she added.

"They have taken her name and memory and made it into something positive and it is such a beautiful thing to see. We will be raising money from the event but it’s not just about raising money, it's also about raising awareness of the fund and the work that the guys are doing."

August 15, 2014

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