Parents begin epic challenges to raise funds for trust

Gordon Smart with his daughter Islay.
Gordon Smart with his daughter Islay.

Thankful parents are taking on two epic challenges to raise money for the charity which cared for their daughter when she was born prematurely.

Bike-mad Gordon Stuart, also known as The Arctic Rider after he rode 6,000 miles to the Arctic Circle two years ago, is aiming to travel the length of the UK in less than 24 hours.

Islay undergoing specialist care after being born prematurely.

Islay undergoing specialist care after being born prematurely.

The route, named the Iron Butt Challenge, will see Gordon test his endurance and motorbike riding skills to complete the 873-mile trip in a single day.

Meanwhile, his wife Kirsty aims to run 365 miles in a year, culminating with the Great North Run in September.

The couple, from West Allotment, are raising funds for the Tiny Lives Trust, the charity supporting the work of the special care baby unit (SCBU) at Newcastle’s RVI.

They are among the families who share their story in a new film, commissioned by Tiny Lives, charting the journey of babies through the unit.

In August 2014, their daughter, Islay, was born six weeks early after a traumatic labour and was transferred to SCBU where doctors discovered she had a problem with her bowels.

Kirsty, 30, a public law solicitor with Irwin Mitchell, said: “I was told that I couldn’t hold her.

“Being told that is a feeling I wouldn’t ever want a parent to feel. All I could do was sit by the incubator and put my hand through the little windows on the side. That day I remember crying, a lot”

Islay responded well to treatment and was discharged after two weeks.

Gordon, 26, a project manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, added: “Being able to combine my passion for motorbikes with raising money is win-win for me.

“Every penny donated goes to my charities.

“Costs for my trip are funded by me or my corporate sponsors and I ensure that my adventures raise far more money than they cost.”

Gordon is currently seeking companies to sponsor and support him on the Iron Butt Challenge.

To watch the film and find out more about Tiny Lives or sponsor Gordon visit www.tinylives.org.uk/about/scbu/