Orpington to Rye Bike Ride - 25th June 2016
Alex was born by emergency caesarean after a long and traumatic labour and birth, and Alex suffered damage to her brain. She had cerebral palsy, bulbar palsy (which meant she had no swallow or gag reflex) and she was in renal failure. She had a feeding tube in her tummy and would be fed liquid feed by a pump for 20 hours of every day. Everything she tried to swallow would go straight onto her lungs and choke her and so it was dangerous to try and feed her normally. I would have to clear her airway regularly to enable her to breathe. My precious little girl spent probably over half of her life in hospital.
Alex was totally dependent upon me for all her needs and as you can imagine, life for her was very difficult. Alex’s life expectancy was 5 years, but she managed 10! She died in the Evelina Children’s Hospital on 19th January 2007 of pneumonia and multi-organ failure with her family and friends around her.
Now she has gone, her little 10-year life, to me, seems like 10 minutes. Her life was over so soon. Although, of course, I miss her every day, what I do have left are the happy memories of all the special moments with her. When she was well enough to enjoy her life, she enjoyed every single moment. She was full of mischief and had such an impact on everyone who knew her. It really was an honour to be her mum and I consider myself very lucky to have had her.
When you lose a child, you initially feel absolutely lonely and are filled with deep regret and emptiness; and although these awful feelings do come to the surface on and off over the years when you are close to a special anniversary or just having a bad day, they do fade and become less painful over time, and then those precious memories come flooding back of all those happy times and the love you shared. And of course even though there is always a huge longing to have your child back with you, to love them and keep them safe, and the constant awful realisation each morning that they are gone, what you do have are precious memories of happy times and these memories are what make you smile again and help you to celebrate their life and the time you had together.
So this is why, after losing Alex, I knew I wanted to help a charity like Dreams Come True. I chose Dreams Come True because I had been involved with them during Alex’s life. They were organizing a dream for Alex before she died - to swim with dolphins in Portugal - but sadly this didn’t happen as Alex became too poorly and never realised her dream. Dreams Come True were always excellent in the way they dealt with me as Alex’s mum, and now me as a volunteer. They consistently provide good support and encouragement and use such common-sense ways when it comes to dealing with the dreams, and the children.
My little Alex was a truly inspirational, brave and beautiful little girl who had the most amazing spirit and a wonderful light in her eyes.
On 25th June 2016, a group of seven friends, namely Danny Chandler, Lee Buddin, Richard Beard, Stuart Searle, Marc Wilson, Clair Purvor and Elaine Mackenzie rode the 60 miles from Orpington to Rye for Dreams Come True.
The riders kindly gave up their time to train and take part and have so far raised over £2,500 - to donate click here.
Thanks must also go to our volunteers who helped on the day to ensure the riders were safe and to feed them when they arrived in Rye. We own a small piece of land in Rye and had set up marquees, tents, banners and balloons to welcome them on their arrival. The Dream Team started their journey at 7am from Orpington and arrived in Rye (within 15 minutes of each other) at around 12pm. Family and friends were there to cheer and whistle and let off party poppers! They did brilliantly and felt a great sense of pride at what had been achieved. The cyclists had such a great time and are already planning something for next year!
The day continued with a huge BBQ with music, fun and laughter and we continued into the night with a few drinks sitting around a bonfire, toasting marshmallows! Most of our rider, friends and family camped overnight and a great time was had by all.
The response from our donors was better than we had expected and we smashed our original £500 target.
Author: Hannah Attenburrow
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