Dartford man to cycle from London to Brighton for heart charity
PUBLISHED: 11:43 20 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:43 20 May 2016
He has already completed the journey 28 times following his daughter’s death
A Dartford man is cycling to London to Brighton to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) after his three-year-old daughter died from a congenital heart disease.
Traviss Whitehead, 56, has already completed the London to Brighton bike ride 28 times and raised around £20,000 for the charity following daughter Katie’s death in 1989.
The 54-mile cycle from city to sea attracts around 25,000 BHF supporters each year, raising more than £57 million for the charity in the past 41 years.
Mr Whitehead said: “It was a complete shock when I was told that my daughter Katie had been diagnosed with a Double Outlet Right Ventricle and Subpulmonary Ventricular Septal Defect the day after she was born.
“I was overwhelmed as I had never heard of the condition before and although we were told about surgical procedures that would help my daughter, we were left in the dark about her quality of life and her outlook.
“When she was just a few months old, the amazing doctors at Guys and St Thomas Hospital fitted a pulmonary band, with the prospect of major corrective surgery in the future.
“She was so poorly for the first year but she was fighter and gradually got stronger. At three years old, doctors decided that Katie was healthy enough to undergo the corrective surgery, which would give her the best chance possible.
“The arterial switch operation took place three months later on the 21st of March 1989 but sadly she died during surgery.
“All the advice and medical guidance in the world couldn’t prepare me for her death at just three years old. My daughter was taken away from me far too early and I was completely crushed, desperate to do something to stop families suffering from a similar tragedy.
“Her death marked my annual adventure from London to Brighton in support of the BHF, to help raise vital funds for the charity’s life saving research into cardiovascular diseases.
“I love the day – the atmosphere is awesome. Throughout the years my friends, family and the local community have continued to support me by donating money and giving me much needed support. This year we are a team of ten, consisting of my son and some friends, but some years we have had to hire a double decker bus to get everyone back to London!
“Their generosity is unbelievable and I always manage to raise at least £600 a year through fundraising, sometimes even reaching the £1,000 mark!
“Even though I’ve been involved for so long, I still train. When the weather’s a bit warmer, I’ll get on the saddle two to three times a week covering 35 to 50 miles depending on how much time I have on my hands.”
To sponsor Mr Whitehead, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Traviss-Whitehead3