Timperley resident, Lora Fachie, has been awarded the MBE for services to cycling in the New Year’s Honours list after her great success at the Rio Paralympics. Already double world champions, cyclist Lora and her pilot Corinne Hall won Paralympic gold with victory in the tandem three-kilometres pursuit.
Rio was the second Paralympics for Lora, who has an inherited condition which means that she can only distinguish between light and dark. She was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a medal at the London Paralympics in 2012 after her bike had a mechanical failure. In addition to this disappointment, Lora had been so focussed on winning a gold medal that she found the experience stressful and overwhelming. When the chance came to go to Rio, Lora was older and wiser. She realised that just getting there was a massive achievement and, as a result, enjoyed herself much more. Lora did have to fight to get to Rio though, competing against younger candidates who are always entering the field. After her achievements in 2016, Lora is still setting goals. Next is the Commonwealth Games in 2018 on Australia’s Gold Coast and then, hopefully, the next Paralympics in Tokyo.
Lora and Corinne compete in both track and road events Photo courtesy of British Cycling
Lora competed under her maiden name of Turnham. Shortly after Rio she married Neil Fachie MBE, also a Paralympic cyclist, who won gold in 2012. Lora is originally from Liverpool and Neil from Aberdeen but the couple are based in Timperley now as they both train at the Manchester velodrome with the rest of the GB cycling team. They enjoy Altrincham life and love eating out at the different restaurants and cafés in the town. Amongst their favourites are Oxford Road Café for breakfast, Sugar Junction, Sugo Pasta Kitchen and Phanthong Thai.
The fact that Lora’s parents and her two brothers, Mark and Roy, are all visually impaired has not prevented them from engaging in sport. Lora’s mum was asked to train with the Paralympics squad for the 1984 Paralympic games in the 1500 metres. When Lora was 10 or 11 she found her mum’s running spikes and was inspired to start running herself. Lora and brother Roy, who is three years older, started training with a local athletics club for children with different disabilities. They also ran with Liverpool Harriers whenever the club could provide them with a guide. Mark and Roy have both represented England in VI (visually impaired) cricket and Roy played 5-a-side football for Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
Lora’s guide dog, Libby, retired in October and although she is still with Lora she no longer accompanies her when she goes out. Libby is now a lady of leisure and this beautiful black Labrador slept peacefully at our feet as we chatted. Lora is waiting for a replacement guide dog but in the meantime, she is using a cane. Lora and Libby have been together since Lora was 17 so adjusting to using a stick whilst she is without a guide dog has been hard. Lora gave an insight into the value of these highly-trained dogs as she explained that when she was out with Libby she would not even have been aware of obstacles as Libby would guide her around them. Lora now feels obstacles with her cane but must decide for herself how to negotiate them. Getting out and about is therefore more stressful. However, nothing stops this Paralympian from just getting on with life. Did I mention that Lora - you know the Lora who can just distinguish between light and dark - used to love roller blading up and down the road?!
Libby, Lora's guide dog, recently retired.
Lora is justifiably proud of her MBE. Husband Neil received an MBE after his success in the London Paralympics and so she did wonder whether she might be similarly rewarded after Rio. Nothing arrived however, until one day, as Neil was leafing through the post, he asked Lora how long a plain brown envelope had been left unopened. The answer was “Quite a while”. It had looked so anonymous that Lora had presumed that it was a bill! Of course, notifications of honours are sent in ordinary envelopes to avoid giving the game away.
Lora gives much of the credit for her amazing success to her mum and dad who, despite being visually impaired themselves, took her to all her races every weekend. They even came to Rio with her. Her mum is her hero and a huge inspiration. Blind herself, she has brought up three visually impaired children to do everything they wanted without fear and to achieve great success in their lives. Well done Mrs Turnham!