Dad's 24-hour cycle feat in memory of son is 'toughest challenge yet'

Richard and Tom Barr

Richard Barr raises money for Down's Syndrome Association and Woolgrove School every year, in memory of son Tom - Credit: Richard Barr

A Letchworth dad - who is no stranger to an extreme challenge - has completed a 215-mile cycle challenge in 24 hours in memory of his son Tom, who sadly died when he was just seven years old. 

Richard ‘Dicky’ Barr left his home and followed a route which included the highest points in five counties: Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

Richard 'Dicky' Barr took on a 24-hour cycle challenge in aid of Down's Syndrome Association and the Woolgrove School

Richard 'Dicky' Barr took on a 24-hour cycle challenge in aid of Down's Syndrome Association and the Woolgrove School - Credit: Richard Barr

The author of You Can Do It Tom Mouse - inspired by son Tom -  said: “My initial aim was to cycle as far as I could in a 24-hour period, but I decided to add to the challenge by including on my route the highest points in our five local counties.

"It's all in support of the Down’s Syndrome Association and Woolgrove Special Needs School.

"I had done a great deal of training and planning, but the challenge was still one of the toughest ones I have taken on, with torrential rain for the last two hours.


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"It was at times magical too - cycling through the night and into the dawn with an abundance of animal nightlife for company. And emotional. It often feels to me that my son Tom is with me on the challenges that I do.”

Dicky followed a route which included the highest points in five counties:

Dicky followed a route which included the highest points in five counties: Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex - Credit: Richard Barr

Tom, Dicky’s son, had Down’s Syndrome and was born with congenital heart disease, (AVSD and Fallot’s Tetralogy). Despite his challenges, Tom enjoyed life to the full and lit up the lives of those around him.

Dicky described this latest feat as his 'toughest challenge yet'

Dicky described this latest feat as his 'toughest challenge yet' - Credit: Richard Barr

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

"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.”

Tom died at Great Ormond Street Hospital in July 2004 and ever since, Dicky has dedicated much of his spare time to fundraising for the Down’s Syndrome Association and for Tom’s old school, Woolgrove Special Needs Academy in Letchworth.

“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.

"I am so grateful to those who have supported me. For anyone who wishes to make a donation then please visit my fundraising page.”

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