A bereaved dad is gearing up for an emotional bike ride to raise funds for the hospice that cared for his daughter.
Andy Hutton and two university friends are taking on a 200-mile ‘three counties’ challenge by pedalling to all three East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) bases – The Treehouse, in Ipswich, The Nook, near Norwich, and at Milton, near Cambridge.
They also plan to call in at Ipswich Town, Norwich City and Cambridge United Football Clubs, as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge. Andy organised the ride as a way of raising funds and awareness for EACH, the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) and Brain Tumour Research, in memory of daughter Grace Zuzu, who was 21 months old when she died in May 2022.
It followed a six-month battle against a rare and aggressive type of brain tumour, embryonal tumour with multi-layered rosettes (ETMR). Andy and pals Steve Formoy and Piran Borlase-Hendry are planning a circular route, starting from Grace’s home in Holton St Mary, on the Suffolk-Essex border.
They will then travel to The Treehouse and Ipswich Town’s Portman Road, before heading to The Nook, in Framingham Earl, and Carrow Road, home of the Canaries. After an overnight stay in Norwich, they will cycle to Milton and Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium, and then head home via Addenbrooke’s.
The total mileage is 197 miles, so the trio are planning a detour to hit 200 miles.
“I’m looking forward to it and hoping we can raise as much as possible for three special causes – three charities we love and want to support,” said Andy, 45.
“All three do an amazing job in financially challenging circumstances and the work they do is desperately needed. We’ve already had fantastic support from a lot of very generous people.
“Grace’s story has obviously touched a lot of people. She brought unimaginable happiness to Cerys and I, and everyone who knew her. Every donation will make a lasting difference to someone’s life, as we can testify.
“It’s going to be pretty challenging for three men of varying fitness levels in their mid-40s. I’ve been doing some training rides, which have been painful at times! However, given all that’s happened and my reasons for doing this ride, it’s not difficult to motivate myself.”
Grace was born in August 2020. Everything was fine to start with and she was a perfectly normal, healthy baby. However, she suddenly became ill in November 2021 and was taken to Ipswich Hospital, before being “blue-lighted” to Addenbrooke’s in the early hours of the morning.
A brain tumour was identified but attempts to remove it had to be aborted.
“In January 2022, we were told the tumour was still growing and that it wouldn’t be in Grace’s interests to continue her treatment,” said Andy, who is marrying partner and step-mum to Grace, Cerys, next September.
“It was at that point we were told about EACH and, looking back, we can’t imagine going through that part of our lives without such incredible support at The Treehouse. It will always be a special place for us and we feel blessed to have it on our doorstep. We lucked out in that respect.
“EACH was there when we needed it and going through everything without such incredible help and support would have made it a very different experience. This is our way of thanking and showing appreciation to all those who helped Grace, including the dedicated and fantastic staff at The Treehouse, Addenbrooke’s and Ipswich Hospital.
“Cerys and I have only been back (to The Treehouse) once, shortly after Grace died. It will be emotional going up the driveway again but if I needed any extra inspiration or motivation, that will be it.”
Andy, Steve and Piran are setting off on 22nd September. To show your support and sponsor the trio, head here.