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Miles that matter

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Cyclists outside a children's hospice

Back in 2022, Francesca Lennon took on the major challenge of cycling to all 54 children’s hospices across the UK. Inspired by her work as a children’s nurse and her own experience of personal loss, Francesca is back to take on another epic cycle by pedalling 54 miles every day to represent the 54 children’s hospices supporting seriously ill children.

Since my last challenge, I haven’t cycled more than 30 miles, so I knew 54 miles 4 days in a row would be tough. Although I was going into this one with a bit more confidence I was still nervous as I am by no means a cyclist.

When I took on the first challenge I hadn’t really ridden a bike much before, so going onto the roads was the scariest thing. I remember finishing each day with a good cry knowing I had to get up and do it again.

My motivation

As a children’s nurse I’ve seen how incredible the support children’s hospices give is. Then, when my best friend’s son, Henry, was diagnosed with leukaemia, I got to see the other side of having someone I love supported by a children’s hospice. And I realized how little society knows about what a children’s hospice does.

So, I really wanted to raise awareness for that and help raise the funds they so desperately need. Raising funds for Together for Short Lives who support children’s hospices meant I could have an even bigger impact and help even more children and families.

Pushing myself again

I went into it a little scared, but I had so many people supporting me. On most of the days I was joined by some wonderful people including parents who have used the hospices, physiotherapists who work at them, family friends, and my mum joined me on the last day.

I knew it would be tough, but I had all these people around me and I’m proud to support such a wonderful cause. Tony, my stepdad, planned the routes for me and he made sure to pick out some great pit stops for the important coffee break! I couldn’t have done it without him.

Challenges along the way

Every day got tougher. Day 3 was the biggest day for me as I was going through a city centre and city cycling is not my forte. I like nice quiet country lanes and what I actually got was roadworks, getting lost, and having to navigate my routes several times!

To keep focused throughout the whole challenge, I just thought about the children and families and how they face numerous challenges every day. And I thought about Henry and how he always wanted to help people. So, I just pushed through and kept going.

The importance of your support

Doing this was all for those children and families. However tired I might have been, it doesn’t compare to the families of seriously ill children. The care of their child is 24/7. It’s every day. It’s exhausting and they do that on top of having to manage their day-to-day life.

That’s why we need children’s hospices. They try and take some of the pressure off these families so their focus can be that child and the time with that child. They bring quality, they bring hope, they bring support.

And children’s hospices need Together for Short Lives to ensure the care they get is of the best quality and that it will be there today, tomorrow and long into the future. Which is why they need me and people like you to support them. They can’t do this alone, we must all be in it, together.

How I feel now and what’s next

I’m already thinking about my next challenge. I always want to make it bigger and better because I love how these rides bring people together and help shine a light on Together for Short Lives and the work children’s hospices do.

I’m actually going on my honeymoon after the challenge, and I am taking the bike as well! I wouldn’t call myself a cycling lover but maybe others will disagree. Perhaps I might see you on my next adventure, trusty bike by my side.

Inspired by Francesca’s story?

If you want to take on your own challenge but don’t know where to start take a look at our current Events calendar for inspiration. Or get in touch with our friendly team as we’d love to help you on your own adventure to support seriously ill children.

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