Yorkhill Children’s Charity

This post is the reasoning behind why it would be great if you donated money towards the Yorkhill Children’s Charity. If you want to jump straight to that part, the relevant JustGiving page is here. Thank you.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff to write up about LEL2013 that will come online over the next few days, but important things first.

We (John and I) didn’t ride London-Edinburgh-London for charity. We rode it for a variety of selfish reasons; primarily to see if we could. To see if our healthy bodies were up to the task. To experience the adrenaline rush and excitement of physical endeavour. For a challenge.

But challenge is a relative term. LEL isn’t that challenging. Sure; 1,400km in five days is a long way, but at any point I could stop. Sleep for a bit to ease tired legs. Take painkillers. Catch the train home if it all got a bit much.

Fine, scale it up a bit. Christoph Strasser completed the 4,817km comprising the 2013 Race Across America in seven days, 22 hours and 52 minutes with an average speed of 25.23km/h. An astonishing feat, but is this really challenging when compared to the scale of human endeavour?

Let me present an alternative.

My niece Orla-Jane was born on the ninth of August, 2011. She had an exceptionally common infection in humans – toxoplasmosis – which generally results in a few weeks of flu-like symptoms and then a full recovery. Unfortunately, if you happen to have a weakened immune system at the time, toxoplasmosis can hit you like the proverbial train. Orla suffered such severe and wide-ranging symptoms that it wasn’t at all clear what was going on, and whilst huge numbers of tests were carried out, the infection dug in around her brain.

Orla spent the vast majority of the first six months of her life in the various intensive care units of the Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow. She fought continuously and ferociously, not to cycle some arbitrary distance, but simply to stay alive. She had the support of Yorkhill’s world-leading collection of staff, but there was no chance for a break. No free-wheeling descents to recover one’s breath. No option to give up and catch a lift to the finish. Just a single, long slog.

Orla in Yorkhill's Intensive Care Unit, following one of several operations.
Orla in Yorkhill’s Intensive Care Unit, following one of several operations.

That, in my mind, is a challenge. One worthy of respect, admiration, and support.

Now, coming up to her second birthday, she’s a cheerful wee thing. She still has to endure a variety of medicines and special equipment, including a fetching lycra supportive suit that surely foretells of future success in the cycling arena, but she plays, laughs, sulks, cries and generally acts as you’d expect any young child to do.

Orla striking a pose with the author, shortly before incapacitating me with a brutal backheel and stealing my hat.

If you do wish to donate money, either in recognition of the efforts at LEL2013 or because you find this blog diverting, useful, or entertaining, I’d ask for your support for Yorkhill Children’s Charity. Your money will enable the hospital to continue to allow all kids the best possible chance to overcome whatever challenges life throws at them. You can do so via the Darkerside JustGiving site here, or by following the link in the bar to the right on every page in this site.

Thank you.



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