Retford dad takes on cycling challenge to support hospice caring for vulnerable daughter

Five-year-old Ella and her dad, Mat, enjoying music at home during lockdown.Five-year-old Ella and her dad, Mat, enjoying music at home during lockdown.
Five-year-old Ella and her dad, Mat, enjoying music at home during lockdown. | Other 3rd Party
An inspirational dad has pledged 12 hours of pedal power from home to raise funds for the local hospice that cares for his five-year-old daughter.

Mat Barrowcliffe, his wife Katie, and their daughter Ella are self-isolating at their home in Ranskill, due to Covid-19.

Now Mat is pledging to push himself to the limit by cycling for 12 hours on Saturday, May 16, the equivalent of a shift for the care team at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, who have supported his family since 2018.

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Ella was diagnosed with a hole in her heart at the 20-week scan, so her family knew she’d have to go through open heart surgery after she was born.

Mat Barrowcliffe and his brother, Craig (left), will both be cycling from home on Saturday, May 16.Mat Barrowcliffe and his brother, Craig (left), will both be cycling from home on Saturday, May 16.
Mat Barrowcliffe and his brother, Craig (left), will both be cycling from home on Saturday, May 16. | Other 3rd Party

A few weeks after Ella was born, Mat and Katie noticed her doing “small, jerky movements”.

After an urgent referral to a neurologist, she was diagnosed with West Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

Mat, 36, said: “I remember I was once looking after Ella on my own and she just lay there having seizures all day. It really affected me.

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“People don’t realise the extent of the services Bluebell Wood provide. The support really is fantastic, and everyone we’ve met there has been so friendly and caring.”

Even now, with many families self-isolating, Bluebell Wood’s care team are continuing to reach out and support families like Ella’s from afar.

Mat added: “Lockdown has been difficult at times. We’ve lost our usual support network of school, healthcare, and respite at the hospice.

“However, we’ve been having weekly video calls with one of the counsellors at Bluebell Wood, and we’ve arranged for her to have a music therapy session remotely, which is something she really enjoys.”

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Mat, a keen cyclist with several triathlons under his belt, was inspired to take on his epic endurance challenge with his brother Craig, 40, after Bluebell Wood launched its #LetsPledge campaign.

At 8am on Saturday, the brothers will be strapping into stationary bikes in their homes and logging onto Zwift, a virtual training program for cyclists and runners, and cycling until 8pm.

You can support Mat and Craig by making a donation at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MathewBarrowcliffe1.