A FUNDRAISING challenge has been launched in memory of a young cycling champion from Musselburgh who died at the age of 20.

Ben Forsyth passed away in July, 2018 after being forced to give up the sport he loved in 2015, following a diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) – a progressive and incurable disease of the heart muscles.

His friend Katie Murray, a 22-year-old nurse, is hoping to raise funds through a challenge which encourages people to participate in health and fitness activities during May, June and July.

This month people are being urged to walk 100 miles which is roughly 5.5km a day or 8,000 steps.

In the month of June, 1,000 squats should be undertaken, with 1,000 burpees (squat thrusts) completed in July.

Money raised will go to Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which offers cardiac screening to young people, in memory of Ben who passed away after a sudden cardiac event.

Following a cardiac screening in 2013, an irregularity was discovered in his heart which led to him being referred to the NHS.

In May 2015, he started to develop breathing problems during races and a further MRI scan revealed he had ARVC.

A former Musselburgh Grammar School pupil and member of Edinburgh Road Club (RC) cycling club, he won the British Youth Circuit Race Championship in 2013 at Blackpool.

A member of Spokes race team, he also raced with Olympic cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy at the opening the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.

Katie, who works in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, hopes the fitness challenge will bring some fun to lockdown and encourage people to get moving and join in with their friends and family.

She said: “I think this will help keep people motivated to keep active during lockdown as it gives us all a goal to work towards whilst raising money for a brilliant cause.

“CRY is a fantastic charity that offers cardiac screening to all young people between the ages of 14 and 35, and helps to detect cardiac abnormalities in people within this age group. So far, CRY have been able to screen 210,000 young people across the UK. Thanks to fundraising efforts from Ben’s family and friends, this is a number that we hope will continue to rise.”

Katie, who knew Ben since P1 at Stoneyhill Primary School, added: “For every month successfully completed, we ask for a donation of £5. If not completed then we would appreciate any donation at all.”

Mutual friends are getting involved to complete the challenge and Katie added: “Some are making adjustments to the challenges so that they are able to participate and complete the challenge in a way that enables them to do so, and I would strongly recommend this for anyone who wishes to take part and join us.”

Katie, of Denholm Road, and Ben, whose family live in the Clayknowes area, both went to Musselburgh Grammar School and lived one street apart.

She said: “We were close friends both in and out of school and shared lots of mutual friends. Following school, we both went to Edinburgh University where Ben studied geography and I studied nursing. Although we both studied different courses, I still saw Ben on a regular basis as our group of school friends has remained close.

“He was always the life and soul of the party and had an infectious energy that followed him everywhere he went. A great person to be around and an even better friend, so kind and generous. Even when he was living life to the full, he always had time for other people, be it his friends or family.”

To donate, go to Virgin Money Giving at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KatieMurray29