When Warwick mum Laura Rastall takes on the 100-mile challenge at the Prudential RideLondon cycling festival at this weekend she will have very personal reasons for aiming to complete the cycle.
The 37-year-old, of Bridge Street, will be raising money for Bliss - the charity for premature and sick babies - after both she and her twins Edwin and Orla were saved by the vital medical care they received at University Hospital Coventry in 2012.
The twins, who turn four on the final day of the three-day cycle on Sunday, were extremely ill when they were born prematurely.
Doctors had discovered a problem with Edwin’s umbilical cord and they weighed just 2lb and 2lb 13oz at birth.
They had to spend four months in neonatal intensive care at the hospital.
Mrs Rastall’s husband Tom, also 37, is a keen cyclist and triathlon runner who has raised money for Bliss since the twins were born.
Cheering him on with Edwin and Orla, who are now thriving, and eldest son Finley, aged six, as well as helping him get signed up for this year’s RideLondon 100 was such a moving experience for Mrs Rastall that she decided to sign up herself too.
She said: “I know only too well how very lucky we are, thanks to the incredible care we received, that we were able to bring two little people home from hospital with us.
“Not all parents are that lucky.
I wanted to do something to celebrate the twins’ birthday, but also to help other parents, and the research work that Bliss supports into the causes of premature birth.
“This seemed the perfect way to do that,”
Using her first-ever road bike, a joint Christmas present from Tom and her aunt, Mrs Rastall has thrown herself into training, taking turns with her husband between cycling and childcare.
She said: “I’ve fallen off a few times but I’m now riding 18 to 20 miles a day with another local mum, and I’ve come to hate days when I can’t get out and ride.”
Mrs Rastall a primary school teacher by profession who currently works for data company Schools’ Intelligence, has already passed the £500 RideLondon fundraising target she initially set herself – she’s now at £1,000 and counting.
This will help Bliss’ work supporting research that can improve outcomes for the 90,000 babies born premature or sick in the UK each year.
Meanwhile husband Tom, a marketing manager for Mira Showers, raised £795 for Bliss in last year’s RideLondon and has also already surpassed his target for this year.
Mrs Rastall said: “Edwin and Orla have just left pre-school.
“I remember all they went through, such as coming home from hospital needing oxygen to help them breathe, and I just can’t believe how far we’ve come.”
Prudential RideLondon is a world-class festival of cycling, and over 100,000 cyclists are expected to participate. It combines the fun and accessible element of a free family ride in central London with the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclists’ race.