Three novice cyclists will be pedalling 140 miles in a coast-to-coast challenge to raise money for children with brain tumours.
Alex Hagan, 27, and his friends Sarah Pagan, 28, and Jake Kennedy, 24, will be cycling from Whitehaven, Cumbria, to Tynemouth, North Tyneside, over the course of a weekend.
They have chosen 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.
Mr Hagan 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, and he hopes that through his fundraising he can help to support a child and their family for a whole year by raising £1,000. The group has already raised £700.
He said: “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.”
He added: “I’m a complete novice at cycling and only got on a bike out of sheer boredom during lockdown. My friend Sarah is an absolute expert, whereas Jake and I will have to take her lead. We’ve done very little training, so this will no doubt be a huge challenge for us.
“I’m so glad to have already exceeded our initial fundraising target, but we’d really love to get a full £1,000 to fund a psychologist’s support for a child and their whole family for a year.”
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.
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 now 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.”
Sarah, who works as a caseworker and is from Carlisle, Cumbria, Jake, who is a journalist from Newcastle, and Alex, also from Newcastle, will be setting off on Wednesday 30th June and will finish on Friday 2nd July. They will stay 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