Co Antrim dad to take on cycling challenge in memory of daughter

David Charles.
David Charles.

A father from Doagh is to take on a gruelling fundraising effort in memory of his daughter in aid of a charity supporting parents impacted by stillbirth and neonatal death.

David Charles will take on 10 cycling events between April and Autumn to raise funds for Sands NI, a charity which helps people affected by the death of a baby.

David will be completing the challenge in memory of his daughter Rachel, who died at 32 weeks on the day of her birth on September 11 2010.

So far David, who is also father to Emily and Naomi, has finalised four events. These are the Lap of Lough Erne in April – 60 miles, the Fun Run of the Glens (FROG) on June 6 50 miles, the Causeway Coastal Challenge on June 20 35 miles and the Lap of the lough 95 miles on August 30.

He is in the process of organising the other six events and plans to include the Lagan Valley challenge, the Kilbride challenge in September and the tour of South Derry cycling challenge in October. In total, the amateur cyclist estimates he will cover approximately 1,000 miles across the ten events.

Explaining why he is taking on the fundraising effort, David said: “Sands NI is a charity that we are very passionate about as it provided us with such positive support at such a difficult time.

“We are very indebted to this charity; and so it is for this reason that we want to give something back by helping to raise some money for them during Rachel’s tenth birthday year.

“I have set myself a challenge for 2020 to take on 10 cycling challenges across the year. The mission is to remember our little girl Rachel. It is also to raise some funds for SANDS NI and to hopefully get a little bit more fit along the way.

“The plan is to cycle on my own, however, the offer is open to others if they want to join and support Sands NI. A few friends have indicated already that they are going to join me on a few of the different dates.”

David, who completed a ‘fire walk’ for the charity in 2017, is currently training each week ahead of his first challenge in April.

He explained: “I got back on the saddle for the first time last Saturday morning since the end of November. The plan is to start building the miles up over each weekend from now until my first event in April. I aim to increase the length of each cycle I undertake before April.”

Thanking everyone who is supporting his charity effort, Mr Charles, who is originally from Magherafelt, said: “The loss of a child is such a difficult thing to have to experience. Sands NI is a fantastic charity that really makes a difference to those that are bereaved by the loss of a child.

“Whether it is the memory boxes that are provided at the hospital or the opportunity to meet together regularly with those who have suffered a similar experience, we as a family, found Sands NI to be a great support in a very difficult time.

“Sands NI, like all charities, needs support, so that they can continue to deliver that brilliant service. I want to give something back and it is for this reason that I am completing this challenge this year when our little girl Rachel would have been 10.

“If you can donate to this charity it would be very greatly appreciated and I know it really will make a difference to those affected.”

An online fundraising page has been set up. Over £300 has been raised for the worthy cause at the time of going to print.

If you would like to make a donation, go to