A bereaved dad who completed a charity cycle challenge is encouraging others to get on their bikes – and even recommended the fundraiser to The Prince of Wales. Henry Wright completed last year’s three-day Ride for Life event along with wife Jane, sister Rebecca and brother-in-law Matt.
Between them they raised a phenomenal £4,500 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). The charity is close to Henry and Jane’s heart as is provided end-of-life care for their four-year-old son, Douglas, before his death in February 2018.
It continues to support their family and the couple were invited to meet The Prince and Princess of Wales – then The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – during The Royal Highnesses’ visit to Milton last June.
They chatted to them in the hospice’s remembrance garden and it was there Henry recommended Ride for Life. He said: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience – the highlight of our year.
“I honestly can’t speak highly enough and would recommend it to anyone – as I did when speaking to the future King of England! He smiled when I told him all about it and was genuinely interested, which was lovely.
“One of the main things I look back on was the sense of togetherness and camaraderie. I met some wonderful people. Everyone I spoke to was so positive, supportive and helpful, helping to make it such a fun and memorable experience.
“I had so many great chats along the way and even though our team of four was always last in, it didn’t matter one bit. We got a round of applause when we finished each stage and everyone goes at their own pace. There’s no pressure.”
Ride for Life, the first event in EACH’s busy fundraising year, is taking place from 12th to 14th May. The popular challenge, for keen cyclists and amateurs alike, takes participants on a journey through the stunning East Anglian countryside.
The one-day cost is £35, with participants asked to raise at least £150, while the three-day figures are £150 and £750 respectively. Accommodation is included.
“The organisation was second to none and there were so many nice touches along the way which really helped,” said Henry, reflecting on his experiences in 2022. It meant we only had to ‘worry’ about the cycling. Everything else was in hand and catered for and having the support van meant we didn’t have to stress about any issues with the bike.
“I actually had an issue when my chain snapped but after a quick phone call, they came out to me and it was sorted within half an hour. I was almost immediately back on the road. We were very proud to raise so much.
“Lots of people have congratulated us since and that actually made us feel slightly guilty, because we had the time of our lives!”
Henry, who has agreed to speak to this year’s cohort of cyclists at their hotel at the end of the first day, and Jane plan to take on the challenge again one day and say they will forever be indebted to EACH.
Douglas had more than a year of treatment after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children. He was four years old when he died in February 2018.
“EACH will always have a special place in our hearts and we’ll forever be thankful for the care and support we received, as a family,” added Henry.
“Douglas couldn’t have been in better hands at the end of his short life. He was looked after so well and, as ridiculous as it sounds, we actually have some amazing memories of that time – thanks to EACH.
“The care team helped us enjoy and cherish every last minute together, right to the end, and that was special. They ensured he had the best-possible quality of life. Then there’s all the support we’ve received as a family, since Douglas died.
“After the funeral, people naturally go their separate ways and get on with their lives. It’s easy to feel lost. However, EACH comes to the rescue and is there to gather and scoop you up.
“You have support and are put in touch with amazing people – other families but also the staff, who are there to look out for you. It’s incredible and positive, rather than being doom and gloom.”