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 Louise is a member of Ledbury Swimming Pool. Last November, Louise experienced a tragic event when her daughter died of a progressive neurologic disease. Although devastated, Louise channelled her sadness into determination to get fit and lose weight, inspired by her daughter’s own courage and resolve. Since starting her fitness journey, Louise has hit some fantastic milestones. Here’s what she had to say:           


My name is Louise Ronan. I’m 53 and live near Ledbury. In November 2016 my younger daughter Caitlin died suddenly, aged 17. Many of you who are local to the area may have read about Caitlin previously in the Ledbury Reporter or Hereford Times. Despite suffering from a progressive neurologic disease, which confined her to bed for the last 4 years of her life and left her with no movement from the neck downwards, she was studying for her A Levels via home tuition from John Masefield High School. During this time, she also managed to raise over £34,000 towards Eyegaze systems for herself and other young people with similar difficulties.

She was an amazing and inspirational daughter and I had the wonderful privilege of being her full-time carer for over 4 years. Caitlin was always telling me off for eating naughty food and not doing enough exercise as she was supposed to be my motivator. As was her style, she allowed me no excuses that I couldn’t exercise because I was sat next to her bed most of the day looking after her!

Obviously myself, my husband Sean and my elder daughter Lucy were and still are absolutely devastated at losing her and miss her dreadfully every day. I feel Caitlin is now a part of me and still bosses me around telling me what to do. Therefore in January 2017, I joined Halo Leisure. I was particularly encouraged also by my neighbour Denise who told me how much she loved the spin indoor cycling classes.

I am not very self-motivated so the gym doesn’t suit me but I absolutely love any classes and am perfectly happy to be pushed by someone else to get the most out of each class. When I started the Spin classes there was no way I could keep up with the other regulars. Thankfully, I was allowed to take it at my own pace and within a couple of months felt that I was so much fitter and could keep up with most of the others. When I’m in a hard class and it is getting really tough I use the mantra in our house that ‘worse things have happened to Caitlin’ so just suck it up and get on with it. This was definitely used last week when Ray the instructor got us to do the whole 45-minute Spin class in a standing climb! It also lets me forget about everything during the class and makes me feel better after each class.

At the end of March, I was still quite frustrated. Although I knew I was fitter I still hadn’t lost any weight so I decided to join Slimming World as well. I was delighted when the newly refurbished gym opened in Ledbury in May as the new studio meant I could partake in a wide variety of classes. In a perfect world, I now do Spin classes 3 times a week together with HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), Circuit Training and Abs Attack. New classes are now being introduced that I may try and there are others like Yoga and Pilates that I may try in the future. For the moment, however, I need to concentrate on exercise that doesn’t give me any time to think and just makes me work hard.

I think Caitlin would hopefully be proud of me as 2 weeks ago I achieved my goal weight at Slimming World, having lost over 1 ½ stone. My figure has changed completely. I’m still waiting for my 6 pack to appear but this, I am sure, is a lost cause. It wasn’t until I was doing both the exercise and following the Slimming World programme that my weight began to drop off. When my husband and I go walking he comments on how much fitter I am as before when we walked up the Malverns I would be out of breath and ask for loads of breaks. Now I have no problems at all and only very rarely need to use my asthma inhaler.

All the instructors at Halo Ledbury have been really supportive and there is a lovely camaraderie and atmosphere in all the classes. I think it’s excellent that they are also encouraging teenagers to get fit. In September I took part in a Spinathon with Lisa Beavan-Mason and others and managed to do 4 hours of spinning. More importantly, I raised over £600 for Lisa and Dave towards their surrogacy journey. Lisa was Caitlin’s hairdresser and used to come and wash Caitlin’s hair in bed with me and other carers – no mean feat! Caitlin adored her and I knew I had to do what I could to help and get fitter at the same time.   

Thank you to everyone at Halo Ledbury for being so encouraging and supportive and for working so hard to make us work that extra bit hard in each class and therefore improve our fitness. I would encourage anyone to use exercise as a way of relieving stress and removing yourself from everyday life, even for a short time. I know it has helped me. It hasn’t taken away the grief or the pain of losing Caitlin but it has allowed me to fulfil her wish for me to become fitter and slimmer and made me feel better about myself.


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