Children's nurse to cycle over 3,200 miles in 70 days for Children's Hospice Week

To celebrate the start of Children’s Hospice Week, a paediatric nurse is taking on the challenge of cycling between every children’s hospice service in the UK including Acorns Children's Hospice in the Black Country.

Starting on 20th June, nurse Francesca Lennon will be cycling 3,200 miles over 70 days to complete the marathon challenge by 28th August, an average of 46 miles per day.
 
Every children’s hospice in the UK will be uniting to support her on the first day of Children’s Hospice Week, each completing 54 minutes of cycling or putting their best wheels forward, like wheelchair racing or trolley dashes – a minute to represent every UK hospice.
 
Inspired by her work with seriously ill children for over 10 years, Francesca has recently founded ChatUK (Children’s Hospices Across The UK), a project aimed at creating a network between the independent UK children’s hospices and educating the nation about the importance of the essential service they provide. Vitally, she’ll be raising funds for children’s palliative care charity, Together for Short Lives, to support children’s hospices.
 
The theme of this year’s Children’s Hospice Week is 'For The Children'. Children’s hospices provide vital support for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. Everything they do is ‘For The Children’ – helping families make the most of their lives together, no matter how short. No one knows this better than Francesca.
 
Just four months before the start of the challenge, Francesca experienced her own personal loss, when her close friend’s son Henry died from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia at 9 years old. It is with a huge amount of love that she is dedicating ChatUK to Henry and has named her bike after him too. Henry always wanted to help others and Francesca hopes that through their story she will have an even more powerful message to spread with ChatUK.
 
There are 54 hospices across the UK that support seriously ill children and their families during their most difficult times, but with over 99,000 seriously ill children, hospices are struggling to raise the funds that they need to continue their vital work.  ChatUK’s founding belief is that every child with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions should have access to care and support. 
 
Francesca’s journey will see her visit every children’s hospice in the UK on her route, including stops in Birmingham (25th June) and Walsall (26th June). 

The epic bike ride is part of the project’s launch, with a mission to raise £500,000 for children’s hospices and the families they support. Children’s hospices are made up of many different individual charities and an important part of ChatUK to raise money for them all. Francesca said:

“ChatUK is inspired by the children and families I have cared for as a nurse, seeing first-hand what they face every day and the difference the support of a children’s hospice makes.

"I wanted to bring people together to raise awareness and funds for children’s hospices and to show families of seriously ill children how much we care - but I didn’t know how until I attended a talk by Ben Fogle where he said to ‘Find your Everest’, which led to the idea of cycling around every children’s hospice in the UK.

"Given I didn’t actually own a bike and hadn’t ridden one since I was a child, it has definitely been an Everest to get to where I am today! I am incredibly privileged to be a part of children and families lives at some of the hardest times imaginable and am very grateful that ChatUK will enable further support for seriously ill children across the UK in getting the care they need and deserve.”
 
As part of the challenge, ChatUK is encouraging children across the UK to ‘race Francesca’ by working together to travel the same distance on their own wheels - be it by bike, scooter, wheelchair or any wheels possible!  Starting with just one mile, children across the UK are being encouraged to take on their own personal challenge to join the team and add their own miles to ‘Race Francesca’. A fundraising pack is available on the ChatUK website along with more information on how to get involved.
 
More information about Francesca’s journey and CHAT UK is available at chatukproject.com. Donations can be made on the ChatUK JustGiving page.

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