Over the August bank holiday, 11-year-old Jacob Read cycled 121 miles around the New Forest to raise money for the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Earlier in the year, Jacob’s Great Nana Law had sustained a spinal injury, fracturing two vertebrae, after a fall in her garden. Before, she had been very independent and took pride in tending to her flowers and mowing the grass.
Thankfully, she received excellent care and consultation from the neurosurgery department at King’s College Hospital in London. They quickly referred her to Stoke Mandeville, which has one of the best spinal units in the world.
Kevin Law, Jacob’s Granduncle and Surveyor for Stiltz Homelifts, told us more about the fundraising journey. Kevin shared “Jacob was quick to take action and came up with the idea of the bike ride by himself. Jacob also set up the fundraiser on Stoke Mandeville’s website. There, he wrote about what happened to his Great Nana Law and set out his plan to tackle 121 miles over three days.”
It didn’t take long before donations and comments of support and encouragement came pouring in. As a member of SEEM (the Stiltz Employee Engagement Meeting) where employee suggestions or updates can be shared, Kevin mentioned his Grand Nephew’s bike ride to Stiltz CEO, Mike Lord.
Stiltz has helped other charities in the past and was eager to get involved. Stiltz sponsored Jacob’s bike ride and provided a generous £500 donation. Mike Lord told us, “The company is always keen to support the initiatives of staff and their families and Kevin can be justly proud of his Grandnephew Jacob. To take on this type of challenge at such a young age and organize the sponsorship himself shows not only the deep love for his Great Nana, but also fantastic initiative. Well done, Jacob”.
With the word out and donations coming in, Jacob along with his mum, dad and grandad, set off. They departed from Hazelbury Bryan in deepest Dorset, and travelled the first 40 miles to his uncle’s house.
On the second day, they rode various New Forest trails with more family members joining along the way. Despite only having previously travelled no more than the ten-mile bike ride to school or leisure rides on holiday in the past, Jacob did well to keep up with the 40 miles he spent in the saddle each day.
Not long before the August bank holiday, there was a time when it looked like the fundraiser might be postponed. Jacob had a rugby injury and there was a question mark over whether he could get back on his bike so soon, but he was determined to stick to the original plan and pushed on.
“He lasted longer than some of the adults,” Kevin said, “I know his grandad couldn’t keep up in the end and he had a racing bike, the kit and everything!”
After camping overnight, the family returned to Jacobs great nana’s house in Hazelbury Bryan.
Passing the finish line
Before getting on his trusty bike, Jacob set a target of £500 on the fundraising page. In the end, he smashed that goal by raising over £3000, including Gift Aid.
His Great Nana Law is making steady progress after the fall. While it is still early days, she has regained some movement in her hands, knees and even toes, which everyone thinks is phenomenal considering her age of 85. Her physiotherapists have also been surprised and delighted with the progress. Professional prognosis suggests it would take 18 months to make any notable progress, but these results have been down to the excellent care received as well as Great Nana Law’s own dogged determination!
Jacob’s fundraising page on Stoke Mandeville is still active and is accepting donations to provide further support for treating spinal injuries: Jacob’s 121 Mile Bike Ride | Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (lifeafterparalysis.com)
Well done to Jacob and the whole Read family from everyone at Stiltz Homelifts!