bp Coast 2 Coast cyclist praises local charity

Andy Brooks with Seeley and Raegan

A DAD of two will join 60 current and former bp staff on a coast-to-coast cycle to raise money for The Archie Foundation, the children’s hospital charity that has played a huge part in his family’s life.

Andy Brooks, director of new ventures at the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), took up cycling because it was less strenuous than running, after being fitted with a pacemaker in 2011 and discovering he had a genetic heart condition.

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Since then and to date he has raised more than £20,000 for various charities by cycling from Aberdeen to Edinburgh in 2015, completing Ride London 100miles, cycling from London to Paris, England Coast to Coast in a day, and Lands’ End to John O’Groats over 14 days in 2022.

Andy first heard about the bp Coast 2 Coast challenge when he worked for bp. Fifteen years later he is now taking on the challenge himself to give back to The Archie Foundation.

The 15th bp Coast 2 Coast cycle will cover 225 miles between Dumfries and Aberdeen over three days from 31st May and will raise money for The Archie Foundation’s child bereavement service, Stella’s Voice, Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland at River Garden, and Myeloma UK.

Andy and his family have been supported by The Archie Foundation since his daughter Raegan (11) was found to have a hole in her heart and his son Seeley (7), was diagnosed with an overgrowth syndrome called Beckwith-Weidemann (BWS).

Having spent the past 11 years in and out of Aberdeen Royal Children’s Hospital (RACH) with his children, Andy wants to support the charity, which he believes makes a fundamental difference for families with sick children across the region.

He said: “When you walk into the hospital you see The Archie Foundation’s footprint all over it – the interiors, the murals and the staff coming round and playing with kids who are often very sick. You feel it and you know Archie is there.

“For me, Archie and the children’s hospital are inseparable and when we are there, we feel hugely grateful for everything the charity has done over the years to support the hospital and the services we use because of Raegan and Seeley. We’ve often visited the play park and the toys that are dotted around are a welcome distraction when you have small children.”

Andy and his wife, Lindsay, discovered Raegan had a hole in her heart soon after she was born after requesting testing because of Andy’s genetic heart condition. This meant regular visits to the children’s hospital until Raegan had surgery in Glasgow in 2020 to close the hole.

Their son Seeley, born in 2016, was found to have a growth disorder called Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome at six months old. This has resulted in his legs growing at different rates and puts him at higher risk of developing a Wilm’s Tumour, which means regular monitoring and visits to the hospital.

The money raised by Andy and his fellow Coast 2 Coast cyclists riding for The Archie Foundation will help fund a bereavement support worker for one year.

Paula Cormack, CEO of The Archie Foundation, who is also taking part in the fundraising cycle said: “We are extremely grateful to Andy and his fellow cyclists who are joining me on the bp Coast 2 Coast Challenge and have chosen to raise money for The Archie Foundation, which provides financial, practical and emotional support to babies, children and families. All the money raised will fund a bereavement support worker.

“Our bereavement team of staff and volunteers provide support to children who have experienced loss, tailoring the sessions to suit the child but including things like games and expressive arts and crafts to help them find a way to process their grief and release their feelings in a safe way.

“We are all very much looking forward to the challenge and raising as much money as possible for Archie and the other fantastic charities.”

Andy’s training hasn’t been as rigorous as it was for previous challenges, but he is looking forward to experiencing the ride, which is known for its camaraderie.

He explained: “I’ve always wanted to do the bp Coast 2 Coast cycle because I’ve heard so much about it. With life and kids, I haven’t been able to train enough but with these challenges, you must break them down into chunks and think about the next break. Everyone taking part has a different story and reason for doing the challenge and we will go through different things at different stages of the ride, but we are there to support one another.”

The bp Coast 2 Coast event started in 2008 and since then bp cyclists have raised over £2 million for local charities. The challenge is open to cyclists of all abilities and individuals fund their own accommodation and food costs. Each cyclist has a fundraising target of £1,000 with participants able to nominate a charity to benefit from the amount raised.

bp industrial hygienist Emma Thomson is part of the Coast 2 Coast organising committee. She said:

“We are grateful to all our cyclists who have taken part in Coast 2 Coast over the past fifteen years, often cycling for causes very close to their hearts, like in Andy’s case. It’s no mean feat to take on a challenge like this and many of our cyclists are new to cycling. Their dedication to training and commitment to completing the distance is what helps us raise money for important causes across the North-east and further afield.”

In addition to the cycle, bp organised a ceilidh at Elphinstone Hall in March, which raised £1200. The proceeds will be split between The Archie Foundation’s child bereavement service, Stella’s Voice, Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland at River Garden, and Myeloma UK.

To sponsor the Coast 2 Coast cycle, you can select your preferred cause and follow the link below.

The Archie Foundation

Myeloma UK

Stella’s Voice

Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland at River Garden

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