A NURSE who is cycling to every children’s hospice in the UK has stopped off in the North-East.

Francesca Lennon decided to cycle between all 54 children’s hospices in the UK to raise £500,000 for Together for Short Lives, a charity for young people who are expected to die at an early age.

The 35-year-old, who works as a children’s hospice nurse in Oxford, arrived at Butterwick Hospice Care, in Stockton – the 26th hospice on her journey – after cycling 1,675 miles.

The Northern Echo:

She said: “I had the idea to do this three years ago when I was looking after seriously ill children and their families as an outreach nurse specialist, and it’s been my vision to make the biggest difference possible.”

There was a warm welcome from children and staff as Francesca arrived at Butterwick House Children’s Hospice with her step-dad Tony Harris, who is accompanying her as a support driver and rider.

Home-made cakes, cards, and a banner had all been prepared for Francesca, who spent time chatting with children and staff.

Ashleigh Wood, a fundraiser for Butterwick, said: “We’ve been following Francesca’s story and her progress closely, and it’s been so inspiring to welcome her to Butterwick.

“She knows better than anyone the incredible lengths that hospice nurses go to for the children in their care, how desperately-needed their work is, and how vital it is that we find ways to carry on providing this care for families in our communities.”

Francesca hopes to reach her final children’s hospice, in Bristol, on August 25. So far, she has raised £43,769 of her £500,000 goal.

The Northern Echo:

“It’s definitely been harder than I thought it would be but when I’m struggling up the hills, and I’m tired and exhausted, I think about our families who feel that way every day, so the least I can do is carry on going.

“Everyone involved in a children’s hospice shares that dedication to the children and families, that determination to get the best for them. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the word ‘hospice’ means, but actually we know that children’s hospices bring a lot of light to a family’s life.”

  • For more information about Francesca’s ride, or to donate, visit www.chatukproject.com