A Letchworth author has ridden his penny farthing over 30 miles across London in memory of his son, Tom, who died when he was just seven years old.

Richard ‘Dickie’ Barr crossed all 20 of the River Thames' road bridges from Tower Bridge to Hampton Court Bridge to raise funds for the Down's Syndrome Association and Woolgrove School, Special Needs Academy in Letchworth, where Tom was a pupil.

Richard has raised money for the two causes every year since his son died in 2004, at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Tom had Down’s syndrome and congenital heart disease.


Richard said: "Outside GOSH is a statue of Peter Pan - one of Tom’s favourites. Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up; just like our Tom.

"Tom was, and is, a part of our family - and a part of significance and scale out of all proportion to his size. We are so proud of Tom.

"Tom tended to create a tidal wave of smiles and laughter wherever he went, as others were taken by his infectious joy."

About his most recent challenge, Richard said: "I started on my penny farthing from Tower Bridge and finished seven hours later at Hampton Court Bridge.

"The cycle ride was great fun, with a fair amount of time being taken up doing photoshoots for tourists! It was also tiring, with blustery winds of over 25mph adding to the excitement!"


Richard's past challenges have included a 10,000-mile motorcycle ride from London to Mount Everest, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, taking on the Three Peaks Challenge in the UK, and dog-sledding across Lapland in six days.

Tom’s death also inspired Richard to pen a children’s book, You Can Do It Tom Mouse – illustrated by Hatfield-based Joanna Scott.

The book follows Tom Mouse, who follows his explorer grandad’s example and sets off on adventures where he meets characters such as a disco-dancing yeti and a snowboarding snow leopard.

“The story is about knowing that, with support from family and friends, you can take on any challenge," Richard explained.

Tom Mouse and the North Pole Mystery is another book in the series.


The Tom Mouse books are available from tommouse.co.uk, with 50 per cent of profits going to the Down's Syndrome Association.

Richard's fundraising page for his penny farthing challenge remains open. If you would like to make a donation, visit justgiving.com/RichardBarr.