Pedalling 990 miles in a week to say thank you to hospital

A GROUP of cyclists has completed a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in just seven days to raise money for the care of premature babies in Bristol.

The 1600km (990 mile) LeJog marathon was led by Dorian Brown, who wanted to support the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Southmead Hospital after it saved the lives of his twin nieces. Olivia and Beatrice, known as Liv and Bea, were born 12 weeks early on Valentine’s Day 2019 weighing 4lb 4oz combined. 

Dorian, who grew up in Horfield and attended and later taught at Patchway School, flew home from South Korea, where he now works, for the LeJog challenge, in which he was joined by friends Sam ‘Dutchie’ Arts, Jon ‘Baz’ Baron and Kendall Douglass. A fifth cyclist, Ivstan ‘Bullet’ Daek, reluctantly had to give up after the first day. The other members of the international team of riders completed the gruelling 220km a day and were joined for the final 280km by Jon’s 14-year-old son Patrick.

Dorian said the ride had been tough: most cyclists take 10-14 days to complete LeJog. The group pedalled together for 73 hours and each of them consumed 5,285 calories a day.

“It was more challenging both mentally and physically than we thought, but we got it done and saw some amazing landscapes along the way, we also raised some money for a great cause.”

His sister Melody, the twins’ mother, said: “You can always count on my brother to suggest some utterly crazy challenge to tackle, but he is a man of his word and he and the other guys totally smashed it. As a family we couldn’t be more proud of them all.”

The riders have already raised more than £6,000 of their target £7,500 to buy three specialist monitors for the NICU so that more premature babies can have the same chance in life as Liv and Bea. 

The girls spent 76 and 108 days on the unit before Melody and her husband Tim were able to take them home to Emersons Green. They are now thriving and are looking forward to starting at Emersons Green Primary School in September.

Melody said: “The ‘Angels in Blue’ were a complete lifeline to us as a family when the girls were born – as they are to hundreds and hundreds of families every year. There will never be enough words to describe the care, compassion and love they provided to us all during those long and sometimes very dark 3½ months, but it’s because of them that I am now able to call myself a mum. This is why we as a family wanted to give back just that little bit, to help them continue with the amazing work they do every day.”

Melody and Dorian’s mum Debbie Laurence and her husband Robert, former Bristol Rovers catering manager, drove a support vehicle donated by Autolyne Ltd at Aztec West.

Support also came from supermarket chain Morrisons, who gifted fruit, food wholesalers Chapple and Jenkins, who donated energy drinks and bars and Nailsea Financial Services, who contributed to the cost of petrol for the support van.

Riverside Gym in Little Stoke provided two static bikes that Dorian Brown and Tim Russell rode all day on Sunday July 2 in the foyer of Asda at Cribbs Causeway to raise funds and awareness.

Debbie said: “This was very, very challenging and tough, but my lasting memory will be the sheer grit and determination of all the riders to complete the challenge.”

A senior nurse at the NICU said: “We are very grateful to the team for embracing the Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge. The money raised will go towards purchasing monitors for our resuscitaires, which allow us to monitor vital signs of the smallest and sickest babies immediately from birth and provide them with the best possible care.” 

To read more about the effort, visit Friends of LEJOG for Southmead Hospital NICU on Facebook. To contribute: