Retford superdad Mat clocks up the virtual miles for Bluebell Wood

An inspirational dad has raised £4,600 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice after a 12-hour virtual cycle ride.

Friday, 29th May 2020, 3:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 1:20 pm
Mat Barrowcliffe (right) and his brother Craig both completed the full challenge

Just a few weeks after she was born, Ella Barrowcliffe’s parents received the devastating news that their daughter had a severe form of epilepsy.

Now five years on – and in the midst of lockdown – dad Mat has raised £4,600 for the hospice by cycling 190 virtual miles from his home in Retford.

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.

However, a few weeks later her parents noticed she was making “small, jerky, movements” and she was soon diagnosed with West Syndrome, which doctors described as a ‘storm in her brain’.

Despite the challenges they’ve faced, Mat and his wife, Katie, have tried to remain positive and remind themselves about what Ella can do.

And the family has been helped and supported by Bluebell Wood since 2018.

Determined to say thank you, Mat 36, and his brother, Craig, 40, decided to pedal for 12-hours straight from their homes to fundraise for the charity.

Matt and Katie Barrowcliffe enjoy some family time with Ella. Photo: Martin Makowski

Mat continued: “Lockdown has been difficult at times; but the care team at Bluebell Wood have continued to reach out.

“I’ve wanted to raise money for the hospice for a while so this felt like the perfect time.”

Throughout their grueling ride, Mat and Craig were cheered on by friends and family, with familiar faces even dropping into Zwift – the online cycling program – to ride alongside them.

Mat said: “Our brother Chris joined us for the last couple of hours, and Ella and Katie kept coming in and cheering me on every half hour.

There was never a moment I felt on my own, which was really nice.”

To date, the brothers have raised £4,660.88 including a donation of £1,000 from Mat’s employer, EDF Energy.

Sally Baker, community fundraising manager at Bluebell Wood, said: “Mat and Craig are an inspiration – we’re incredibly proud of them.”

You can still support Mat and Craig here.