Tim Rusling with daughter Renee and supporters outside the Cronkinson Oak pub in Stapeley, Nantwich (Crewe Chronicle)
A father who’s attempting to cycle 5,000 miles in 50 weeks says he’ll be spurred on by memories of his ‘gorgeous baby girl’ who died when she was just three days old.
Tim Rusling hopes to raise £10,000 for Leighton Hospital’s new neonatal unit and set off on the first of a series of cycles last night from the Cronkinson Oak pub in Stapeley, near to his home.
The 51-year-old, who is arthritic and suffers from a degenerative disease called cervical spondylosis, says the challenge is driven by the tragic loss of his daughter Kimberley in 1990.
“At the time we were living in West Sussex and Kimberley was born in Shoreham Hospital, apparently fit and healthy,” said Tim, who is also dad to five-year-old Renee, 20-year-old Sophie Hargreaves, and 24-year-old Toby.
It was as Tim was driving to the hospital to collect Kimberley that he received the devastating call that his daughter’s health had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
“Sadly, Kimberley had been born with congenital septicaemia which was not picked up on until she rapidly deteriorated on day two,” he added.
“Things were complicated by the onset of meningitis and although she put up a brave fight, due to the extent of brain damage caused by both infections we took her off life support and she passed away peacefully soon after.”
Tim, who lives with partner Sarah Davies, took the plunge to raise funds for Leighton’s One in Eleven Appeal following a visit to the hospital with pregnant daughter Sophie, who also has a daughter.
“I had taken Sophie to have some tests done and I hadn’t heard about the One in Eleven Appeal before. I just decided that it would be a great opportunity to take on a challenge and raise funds for the appeal.
“Sophie, is literally in labour right now,” Tim told the Chronicle on Monday.
“So this challenge will be even more poignant.”
He said he couldn’t think of a better cause to raise funds for and that he clearly remembers ‘just how wonderful the staff were and how they were able to save so many lives’ while Kimberley was being treated.
While cycling 5,000 miles is challenging enough, Tim’s condition means it will be even more physically demanding.
“It affects the top of the spine, restricting movement and at times causing considerable pain,” said Tim, who runs a consultancy and training firm in Nantwich.
“Keeping my head lifted up is probably one of the worst positions I can be in so it’s going to be tough.”
To complete the challenge, Tim will be cycling about 100 miles a week in and around Cheshire.
He added: “I’ve organised this event in about a week and I’ve not been on a bike for five years!
“I think 100 miles a week is quite a lot especially as I have a busy lifestyle and it will be a challenge to keep that up for 50 weeks.
“Mentally, knowing that people are supporting me will be a massive help and push me to get through it.”
While the One in Eleven Appeal hit its fundraising target for a new neo natal unit last year, any extra money raised will help pay for further enhancements and equipment.
To sponsor Tim, visit www.justgiving.com/5kin50 or text TIMR50 and an amount to 70070.
To track his progress, visit www.facebook.com/5kin50 or www.5kin50.co.uk.
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