Riding for a reason | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - April 2015

Riding for a reason

Harry and familyUp until around five years ago, Chris Hollister admits that he was ‘unfit, a smoker and a couch potato’. That all changed when his partner Catherine fell pregnant – he stopped smoking and started jogging regularly, gradually increasing his fitness. Then everything came to a crashing halt for nearly eight months as tragedy struck.

When Catherine arrived at her assessment appointment at just over 26 weeks pregnant she soon discovered that the pain she’d been in for six days was in fact labour. She was due to give birth that day and, that very evening, their son Harry arrived weighing only 2Ib 10oz.

After nine days in intensive care Harry had to be moved to another hospital for emergency surgery for the life-threatening bowel disorder necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) – which, amazingly, he survived despite having 3 cm of bowel removed.

Harry then caught several infections, struggled to feed and underwent a number of frightening medical procedures before eventually showing signs of improvement. It was an incredibly slow, painful process for both Chris and Catherine but, after 90 days Harry finally went home.

Happily, nearly four years later, Harry is now an active toddler with a ‘shark bite’ scar on his tummy, mild cerebral palsy and a strong character to show for his early entrance into the world.

When Harry was eight months old, Chris took up Spin classes and bought a mountain bike. Recognising the important work that Action Medical Research undertakes by providing funding for research into conditions like NEC and premature birth, keen cyclist Chris is taking part in this year’s Action London to Paris cycle ride.

Chris has chosen the Classic Route (one of three inspiring options, this one covering 296 miles). The journey begins in Blackheath, proceeding through the rolling countryside of Kent (before the short ferry from Dover to Calais) and then following a route along quiet roads through villages and small towns before heading to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

An added bonus is that each of the three rides will be in time to view the spectacular finale of the 2015 Tour de France! If that sounds like an affair to remember, Chris will be able to share his memories with his 65-year-old father who is joining him on the ride, along with members of the Bristol BS10 cycling club, started by a friend, Kevin.

Earlier this year Chris borrowed a road bike from a friend and feels he should now be at challenge fitness level although he acknowledges that he’s going to have to put in some solid hours of training. “We were all very eager to sign up for London to Paris”, Chris says, “Action Medical Research is a charity very close to our hearts and one that’s well worth committing a lot of time and effort into fundraising for.”

The Bristol based BS10 Cycling Club ethos is that they’re a club for all ages and abilities and that they all start together and finish together – a supportive mindset that we happily endorse here at Action. We wish Chris and his cycling crew the very best of luck as they ride for the most powerful of reasons, with little Harry in mind.

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