Bristolian dads Chris Hollister and Steve Higgins to complete 100 mile cycle for Bliss baby charity

Chris Hollister and Steve Higgins have very personal reasons why they’ll be participating in this year’s 100 mile London to Surrey Prudential Ride on 30 July 2017, in support of Bliss.

Chris Hollister’s son Harry was born at 26 weeks weighing just 2lb 10oz in Southmead Hospital. At ten days old, Harry developed Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) – a serious disease in premature babies which affects their bowels. Harry was transferred to St Michael’s Hospital for life saving surgery. In total, Harry stayed in hospital for three months.
 
Steve Higgins’ son Hugo was born at 30 weeks at Southmead Hospital. Hugo spent seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit where he battled a number of health issues. Hugo, now aged 4 years  despite his rocky start, is looking forward to his new adventure in September starting school. 
 
Chris and Steve have gathered a team of seven riders – including Chris’ dad Colin, 68 – to raise money for Bliss in honour of Harry and Hugo.
 
Chris, 41, and Steve, 25, became friends after Chris’ partner Catherine Miles met Steve and his partner Kelly Edmonds whilst volunteering as a Bliss Champion at Southmead Hospital. Since their partners now both volunteer for Bliss, Chris and Steve decided it was time for them to do their part in supporting the charity.
 
The group of keen cyclists have already raised more than £3,800 for Bliss. This will help Bliss’ work supporting parents of babies born premature or sick and ensuring their babies’ voices are at the heart of decision-making, as well as supporting the neonatal professionals involved in their care, together with research that can improve outcomes for the 95,000 babies born premature or sick in the UK each year.
 
Chris says: “During our three-month stay between Southmead and St Michael’s my partner Catherine and I were supported by Bliss. Once Harry came home, Catherine wanted to give something back to the charity. As well as being a Bliss Champion she has organised innumerable events to raise money for the charity. Steve and I felt it was time we men organise a fundraiser of our own.”
 
Steve says: “After Hugo arrived ten weeks early, we were in complete shock and didn’t know what the future held for us. Each day at Southmead brought new battles but our little hero grew stronger with the care and support given from staff and Bliss. Even after we got discharged from hospital, Bliss was still there to support us. Now my partner is a Bliss champion, helping support other parents that are in the same situation we found ourselves in.”
 
Colin says: “Our grandson Harry was born three months premature and had to undergo a lifesaving operation after developing NEC when he was only a few days old. Harry was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but thanks to his dedicated parents and healthcare professionals, he is making amazing progress. The support Bliss provides families of children born premature or sick is invaluable. I’m doing RideLondon so that the charity can continue to reach families in their greatest time of need.”
 
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, said: “We are so grateful to Chris, Steve, their team and all the cyclists taking part in RideLondon to raise money for us. Their support is invaluable in helping us to achieve our ambition to reach every single baby born needing neonatal care in the UK and their family. We want every baby to benefit from our work, no matter how long they live or how long they spend on a neonatal unit.”
 
If you would like to support the team from Bristol, you can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/BristolBlissRideLondon2017For more information about Bliss, visit bliss.org.uk