Sponsored bike ride for diabetes charity in memory of James

Published on: 02 Oct 2017

WHILE families up and down the country were making the most of one of the hottest August bank holidays on record, 11 cyclists from Downend were making a 100 mile ride raising money in memory of a local teenager.

The sponsored cycle raised more than £13,000 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a charity working to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The bike ride was in memory of Downend teenager James Hedge who died in January 2016 of Diabetic Ketoacidosis following a leakage in the insulin pump he was using. He was diagnosed as Type 1 diabetic at three-years-old and died aged just 18.

The riders included James’ dad, Bob, and brother Patrick, aged 15. They were joined by Jonny Davis, Adam Barber and his son Oran, Matt Condon and his son Mike, Andrew Serle and his son William as well as Nigel Hodges and Ade Pearce. The group are a mix of experienced cyclists and novices aged  from 15 to 51.

The cyclists set off from St Augustine’s Church, Downend, before heading through Bitton, north through Chipping Sodbury and Wickwar and over to Aust for lunch overlooking the river Severn.  

They then travelled west of Bristol, over the Avonmouth Bridge, heading south of Clevedon before returning through the centre of Bristol. Despite four punctures on the way, every rider completed the course. Family and friends waited to cheer them home at the finish line after an afternoon of cream teas. 

Bob said: "James had an irrepressible smile. He was a kind, gentle, patient, quietly strong and determined young man. He was also a good and loving son, brother and friend. James’ life was tragically cut short during his first year at university, which is devastating for the whole family. We are proud to have completed this ride and to have raised so much in his memory."

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening condition when the body’s own immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It has a lifelong impact on those diagnosed and their families. 

There are currently 400,000 people in the UK with Type 1 diabetes and more than 29,000 of them are children. Sufferers endure a daily battle trying to balance the body’s sugar levels within a healthy range by controlling their diets, exercise, insulin injections (or pump monitoring), and regular daily blood testing. The effects of Type 1 diabetes can be both physical and mental, especially if blood sugar levels are too low or too high.

Jonny and Bob both have other family members living with Type 1 diabetes. Jonny’s eldest son, Thomas, 13, was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was eight. James was a role model to Thomas, offering him guidance especially in the early days of diagnosis.

JDRF provides information and support to people living with Type 1 diabetes and their families. The charity is working to find a cure and ultimately eradicate it. It also funds research for new treatments so the everyday lives of patients can be improved.

The St Augustine’s community in Downend has dedicated 2017 to raising money for JDRF in memory of James. 

Several people have taken on physical challenges including running the London Marathon and an 80m freefall abseil. Other events have included a pamper evening, quiz night, family walk and cake sales.  

James’ family say they are very appreciative of the love and support shown by so many.

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