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A young woman hugs a man wearing military uniform. They both smile at the camera.

Ella’s fundraising story: Coast to coast challenge

Ella, Changing Faces volunteer campaigner, writes about supporting her dad on his Liverpool to Skegness cycle challenge.

As well as speaking out about living life with a visible difference and campaigning for change, I’m passionate about running, and take any opportunity to get into the great outdoors. I often combine my passions, raising funds in my Changing Faces running vest, and talking about the campaigns I’m involved with as I go!

2020 has been turned upside down for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic. My dad, Lee, like so many others, has seen his cycling events cancelled. Many of these events were personal challenges, but he had planned to do some to help charities. These charities are now at risk of closure or having to reduce the important work they do, due to the financial repercussions of COVID-19, which will in turn impact the lives of those people the charities support.

One of the challenges that my dad was signed up to complete was a coast-to-coast cycle from Skegness to Liverpool in one day. Despite the event being cancelled, my dad felt he still wanted to do the challenge. So we’ve had to arrange our own logistics: a new route, safe ways to provide support to keep my dad fed and watered through the day, and ensuring we stick to government guidelines around social distancing.

My dad is one of my biggest supporters so it is a real honour to be able to help him take on this challenge.

We’ve named the challenge C2C43 and it will take place on Friday 24 July, starting at sunrise from Albert Dock in Liverpool, and finally finishing at the clock tower in Skegness at sunset. We’ll use mainly B roads and official cycle paths. The money raised from the event will be split between three charities that play an important part in our lives, Changing Faces of course, and two smaller charities, The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT) and the Katherine Allport Foundation.

My dad has enlisted my help, so I’m in charge of the support vehicle, where I will be ready with coffee and food, and of course close by in case of any emergency, as well as providing progress updates on social media throughout the day. Due to the change of route I will not be able to directly follow my dad the entire way so he has enlisted his friend Brian to support him, and Brian will ride the whole distance with him.

Two photos, one showing a man standing next to his bike, the other of three women and two men huddling together.

Ella and her dad support each other in their fitness challenges.

My dad is one of my biggest supporters so it is a real honour to be able to help him take on this challenge. My dad has always been there for me, even when serving for queen and country in the Army. Over the last few years me and my dad have become rather active, both using sport as a way of managing issues that have impacted our lives. For me, it’s running, for my dad it’s cycling. We always support each other. I think we would both agree that we are not the most talented in our respective sports, but we put our heart and soul into what we do!

I have been at my dad’s side when he completed his first coast to coast challenge a few years ago, fundraising for Combat Stress, which supported him as he dealt with some of the mental health impacts of military life. I was also there when he tried out for Team GB in the Invictus Games. My dad has supported me in all my running events. I can always hear his Sgt Major voice when I’m nearing that finish line, and he always supports everything I do as a campaigner for Changing Faces.

I’m really looking forward to helping him complete this latest challenge and raise more money for Changing Faces. I’ll keep you posted with how the training is going, my support role plans (the snacks are very important!) and of course, how he gets on crossing the country by bike in a few weeks’ time.

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