Letchworth dad cycles 100 miles in one day for Down’s Syndrome charity in memory of son

PUBLISHED: 10:02 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:02 28 September 2020

Richard arrived back home in Letchworth at around 9pm, having set off on the journey at 5am that morning. Picture; Courtesy of Richard Barr

Richard arrived back home in Letchworth at around 9pm, having set off on the journey at 5am that morning. Picture; Courtesy of Richard Barr

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A Letchworth dad has successfully completed a 100-mile cycle challenge on a single day in memory of his son Tom, who died at the age of seven.

One of the first stops on Richard's hospital cycle challenge was Lister's Maternity Unit, where Tom was born in 1997. Picture: Richard BarrOne of the first stops on Richard's hospital cycle challenge was Lister's Maternity Unit, where Tom was born in 1997. Picture: Richard Barr

The latest fundraising effort is one of many Richard ‘Dicky’ Barr has undertaken since Tom passed away in 2004.

His 100-mile cycle route was mapped out to take him past a number of children’s hospitals and places with meaning to him.

Richard left his home in Letchworth and followed the route passing the Woolgrove School Special Needs Academy, Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital, King’s College Hospital and Great Ormond Street.

These were all places were Tom, who had Down’s Syndrome, received support and treatment.

Another stop was the Royal Brompton, where Tom underwent heart surgery. Picture: Richard BarrAnother stop was the Royal Brompton, where Tom underwent heart surgery. Picture: Richard Barr

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All the while, he was raising funds for the Down’s Syndrome Association and Woolgrove School.

He said: “The challenge was tougher than I had expected, and in a number of ways. It was a very long and tiring day. I left home before 5am and didn’t get back until 9pm. Cycling over 100 miles on a mix of roads, trails and tow paths, was hard going but good fun too. It was also very emotional at times, visiting places I had not been to for many years, in particular Great Ormond Street where Tom, our son, died in 2004.

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

Supporting Richard along the way was Tom Mouse, a character created by Richard in his children's book, inspired by son Tom who died in 2004. Picture: Richard BarrSupporting Richard along the way was Tom Mouse, a character created by Richard in his children's book, inspired by son Tom who died in 2004. Picture: Richard Barr

“He had a real slapstick sense of humour, going into fits of giggles if you were to drop something, or knock into something. We are incredibly proud of him.

“Each year I take on a different challenge to raise funds for the two charities who helped us so much. I guess too there may be something therapeutic for me in the charity adventures. When I was about to embark upon my first charity challenge a friend said he was sure that Tom would be riding pillion with me. This sentiment is comforting and has always rested with me.”

Richard’s previous fundraising efforts include a motorcycle ride from London to Everest. He has also written a children’s book inspired by Tom, called ‘You Can Do It Tom Mouse’, with proceeds also going to his two chosen causes.

To donate, go tojustgiving.com/fundraising/richardbarr.


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