What inspired me to take on an epic challenge in aid of Child Bereavement UK

by Alexander Fitzgibbons, Trustee

I first became aware of Child Bereavement UK five years ago after the charity supported close friends whose daughter had died in a tragic riding accident. Sadly, they are not alone, being among a number of my friends who have felt the shattering grief of losing a child.

A bereaved parent once said to me, ‘Losing a child is one club you never, ever want to be a part of’. Hearing this absolutely broke my heart and gave me a burning desire to do something incredibly difficult and challenging to raise as much money as possible for Child Bereavement UK.

A bereaved parent once said to me, ‘Losing a child is one club you never, ever want to be a part of’. Hearing this absolutely broke my heart and gave me a burning desire to do something incredibly difficult and challenging to raise as much money as possible for Child Bereavement UK.

As a Trustee of Child Bereavement UK I was acutely aware of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity sector, so I vowed to raise awareness of the charity by doing something really special with the aim of raising over £1m in memory of my friends' children who had died, who I called the Seven Shining Stars.  

I decided to run, cycle and kayak over 2020 kilometres from London to Stockholm, passing through the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.  It was a challenging journey and certainly not all plain sailing with punctures, bad weather and an accident which saw me injure my elbow when the front wheel of my bike gave away under me and I hit gravel! 

Despite these challenges, at every stage I was inspired by the Seven Shining Stars and their families and encouraged by the huge support I received from friends, family and on social media.  I was lucky to be joined on my journey at different points by friends and supporters as well as by bereaved friends, which both raised my spirits and reminded me why the challenge was so important.

After 17 days of running, cycling and kayaking, I completed the challenge with my fifth marathon of the challenge into Stockholm, where I was joined in the last 5km by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. 

The challenge raised £1.1m, ensuring that Child Bereavement UK has the funds to be able to continue to help as many parents as possible to find a way through the incredible grief of losing children.