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Four friends fund treatment for a child with a brain tumour for a whole year through 140-mile coast-to-coast challenge

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Four novice cyclists have raised £1,480 for children’s brain tumour charity Tom’s Trust after pedalling 140 miles in a coast-to-coast challenge – enough to fund a child’s treatment for over a year.

Alex Hagan, 27, and his friends Sarah Pagan, 28, Jake Kennedy, 24, and Dan Potts, 25, cycled from Whitehaven, Cumbria, to Tynemouth, North Tyneside, over the course of a weekend.

While Alex, Sarah and Jake inititally planned to begin their challenge on Wednesday 30 June, a spanner was thrown in the works when two of the group received a notification to isolate from the NHS COVID-19 app just as they were leaving.

They rearranged the challenge, which is when Dan joined the team, and the group completed it between Thursday 5 August and Sunday 8 August.

The team on their coast-to-coast challenge, standing in front of their bikes with helmets on, holding up a Tom's Trust vest. The background is the sea and hills.

From left to right: Dan Potts, Alex Hagan, Jake Kennedy, and Sarah Pagan

They chose to raise money for Tom’s Trust, a charity which funds clinical psychology support for children with brain tumours and their families across the North East and East of England.

Alex is a Higher Assistant Psychologist at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle and his valuable work with families for two days of the week is funded by Tom’s Trust.

He explained that the current pandemic has had an extensive effect on the emotional wellbeing of children with brain tumours.

The team on their bikes in front of the sea.

The team during the ride

The cyclists smashed their £1,000 target, raising £1,480, which will not only fund a child’s psychological support but their whole family too, with more still coming in.He said: “The coast-to-coast was an amazing experience for a truly incredible cause. In total we cycled just under 150 miles and climbed over 10,000ft. The second day was pretty horrible weather wise, but we had good fun and raised awareness for such a brilliant charity. Sarah is the only one who isn’t new to cycling, so we took her lead during the challenge.

“We’ve raised £1,480 at the moment but we’re expecting quite a bit more.” 

Alex and Sarah doing a T for Tom

Sarah Pagan and Alex Hagan doing a T for Tom on one of their practice rides

Discussing his role as a psychologist, Alex added: “A large part of my job is supporting families and helping children with their neurocognitive development following treatment. I frequently see many different members of the family needing help and support, including parents and siblings but also extended family such as grandparents.

“One part of the work which can’t be understated is the support we give to siblings of children with brain tumours. The impact a brain tumour has on a family exceeds just the child themselves, and this is something Tom’s Trust truly appreciates.

“We liaise with schools and teachers for a number of years after a child has finished treatment to ensure that children are reintegrated back into school successfully. Many children can find it extremely difficult to transition back into the classroom following months of treatment, and this is where we can offer tailored support.”

Showing support to his friend Mr Hagan is X Factor winner Joe McElderry, from South Shields, who did a ‘T for Tom’ sign to encourage others to donate to his friend’s fundraising page. The signature T shape made with both arms has been shared by a number of celebrities over the years including Tom Hiddleston, Simon Cowell and Holly Willoughby.

Joe McElderry doing a 'T for Tom'

Joe McElderry supporting Tom’s Trust

Debs Mitchell, Co-founder of Tom’s Trust, said: “We are so grateful to Alex, first of all for his incredible work with the families we support, and to the whole team for raising money to continue funding this vital work.

“There are so many children in the north of England who need our help, and we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful fundraisers. We’d also like to thank Joe McElderry for showing his support.”

A Tom's Trust vest on a bike in front of a field of sheep.

Sarah, who works as a caseworker and is from Carlisle, Cumbria, Jake, who is a journalist from Newcastle, Dan, who is a Senior Finance Analyst from Newcastle, and Alex, also from Newcastle, stayed in B&Bs along the way during the challenge in Penrith, Cumbria, and Eastgate, County Durham.

To donate to their fundraising challenge, go to https://gofund.me/991bb77a

To sign up for your own challenge, visit www.tomstrust.org.uk

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