First they conquered Everest, now they are taking on Kilimanjaro!
A team of cops who climbed and rowed the height and circumference of Mount Everest for a neo-natal charity are about to embark on a new challenge.
This time Wirral detective Nick Moore and twelves friends will ride 270 miles from coast to coast and back again in just four days in a bid to eclipse the £9000 they raised for Ickles Pickles in December.
The cyclists say the route from Whitehaven to Sunderland will force them to overcome 19,000 ft of climbs through the Lake District and Northern Pennines – the equivalent height of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Nick, who is married to investigation support officer Wendy, is raising money for Ickle Pickles after the couple’s daughter Erin, now aged 2, was born with severe brain damage, leading to her having quadriplegic cerebral palsy, dystonia and epilepsy.
The charity raises money to buy specialist equipment for neo-natal units up and down the country so they can provide life-changing care for children born too soon, too tiny or too poorly, like Erin.
Wendy, who is a voluntary ambassador for Ickle Pickles, is staying at home this time due to being 35 weeks pregnant but her place is being taken alongside her husband Nick and their police colleagues by Oliver Rackham, the lead paediatric consultant at Arrowe Park Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit in Wirral who saved Erin’s life.
The team set off from Whitehaven on Monday morning and aim to complete the return trip in four days.
Wendy, aged 39 said: “Nick is always looking for the next challenge to raise much needed money for this unit, he believes he has to set his sights high otherwise it’s not a challenge and won’t encourage sponsorship. I think he’s crazy but it’s his bottom on the saddle not mine!
“Ickle Pickles donates every penny to its units, purchasing equipment such as incubators, cooling mats, ventilators, heat lamps but to name a few. They make it possible for there to be a pot of money available for new equipment to be bought as and when it’s needed, saving the lives of poorly babies who without it would stand no chance of life.
“When our daughter Erin was born she was immediately placed onto a cooling mat which helped to reduce the swelling on her brain much like a cold compress on a bruise, helping to reduce the chances of further damage to the brain. Without this equipment Erin may not have survived or be as cognitive as she is today. We are so grateful to Ickle Pickles for their work in helping save these tiny babies.
“Erin is doing really well, she is a healthy, happy little girl who has just turned two. She knows her own mind and fights every challenge put before her. She cannot sit, roll, coordinate, talk or feed normally, she is peg fed but she communicates in her own way and brings us such happiness in the face of such sadness.
“I do feel like I’m missing out on this challenge, but I’m not a cyclist whereas it’s Nick’s passion and at 35 weeks pregnant cycling is not a good idea, nevermind covering 270 miles! I’m happy letting Nick and his friends get on with it and I can concentrate on having the bed to myself for a few days and relaxing!”
Husband Nick, aged 46 said: “This year’s challenge was something Oliver and I spoke about after the Everest Challenge last year and started to plan. I’m a keen cyclist so decided to make it a cycling challenge and the coast-to-coast to coast was born.
“I have lots of friends who love cycling so I asked around and was overwhelmed by the response. Most of the lads are also dads themselves so were keen to support the charity.
“We’ve done lots of training miles and I have become good friends with most of the challenging climbs in North Wales and Cheshire!
“I have a very busy life with work and being a dad to two children, one of which has very complex needs and also with a third on the way in the coming weeks. Somehow I’ve just found the time to get the training in by getting out of bed really early on my days off and getting out on the road by 7am most mornings.
“Oliver took part in The Everest Challenge and it means a massive amount that he wanted to join in this time. Although not a cyclist he has also trained hard for this event and even took his bike on holiday with him to France so he could continue with his training.
“I’m looking forward to the physical and mental challenges and being part of a team. We’ll help each other through each day and have a few laughs along the way.
“We are going there and back in just four days and the 19,000 feet of climbing makes it daunting but we are relishing the challenge and can’t wait to get started now”.
Oliver Rackham, aged 46, who works as the lead consultant at the neonatal intensive care unit at Arrowe Park Hospital, said: “Our fantastic band of ‘NeoMates’ are parents who have had babies on our unit. They constantly inspire us with their strength and dedication to their babies, and to helping those who come after them. For that reason, I am delighted to have been asked to join the Lucky 13 on this challenge.
“Last year Nick invited me to take part in the Everest climbing challenge. We had a great day, as well as raising valuable funds for the unit. So this year, when he asked me if I wanted to do the coast-to-coast bike ride it was easy to say yes.
“Nick and Wendy show such strength in looking after Erin. The fact that they, like many of our NeoMates, come back to help our unit provide an even better service inspires me to do these things. The care we can provide for these sick and premature babies is vital. But sadly funds are scarce, and any charity fundraising is invaluable.
“While cycling is a new challenge for me, it’s nothing to the challenge that these babies and their families go through with us and for many years after they leave our care.
“I’ve had to get a new bike (my old, heavy mountain bike just wouldn’t have cut it) and put in the miles. This has meant some early mornings, many back to back rides, and even taking my bike on holiday with me which was great as I got to see lots of countryside I wouldn’t have seen normally.
“Another part of the challenge is, being an outsider, I’m going to have to spend four days with a bunch of policemen I don’t know. I don’t really understand what all their jobs are but I guess I will by the end of the ride. Luckily I know Nick already and I got a chance to do a training ride with some of the others. They welcomed me in, we had a good day and I even got to have a fry up as part of it!”
He added: “Ickle Pickles, and charities like them, are vital for providing funds for much needed equipment. Our hospital is very supportive of our neonatal unit and helps us to buy things when we can. However, there is much more that would help improve the excellent care our dedicated team of nurses and doctors provide, and fundraising helps us to do that.”
To sponsor the team visit https://mydonate.bt.com/teams/lucky13cyclists
For more information about the Ickle Pickles charity visithttp://www.icklepickles.org
A photo opportunity of the team on their bikes will be held at Merseyside Police HQ on Thursday morning.
Wendy, Nick and Oliver are available for media interviews. Please call the police press office on 0151 777 8566 to arrange one.
Nick and Oliver are also happy to give telephone interviews to any media next who want to follow their progress from Whitehaven to Sunderland and back again.
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