Stewart Harper and his five strong cycling team will cycle the distance over four days starting from 16 June in memory of his father Davy Harper.
Davy was just 63 years old when he passed away suddenly on January 14 2021 from a cardiac arrest. The medical team at Antrim Area Hospital tried for 20 mins to resuscitate him but unfortunately Davy died, leaving his family heartbroken.
Stewart said: “My dad was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs in October 2020. He was admitted to hospital in January 2021 with difficulty breathing and at the time everyone assumed that the breathing difficulties had been coming from the cancer in his lungs.
“Dad spent almost two weeks in Antrim Area Hospital while the doctors tried to figure out what the problem really was. They came to dad on 11 January asking him if he was aware that he had heart disease. This was news to my dad as he had never shown any symptoms.
“On the day of dad’s death our whole family had been in touch with him via video calls and texts. My mum and dad spoke via video call at 3:15pm and he was in good spirits and hoping to get home soon. However, just an hour later my mum received a call from the hospital telling her that my dad had died from a cardiac arrest at 4:10pm. The initial breathing difficulties that my dad had been admitted into hospital for were actually due to a cardiac cause.
Stewart said his family were left devastated by the loss of the much-loved father.
“As you can imagine, this was a complete shock and heartbreak for dad’s family, friends and colleagues but especially for my mum. Mum and Dad had celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary just a few months before dad had been diagnosed with cancer and mum was only getting to grips with this. Then out of nowhere the love of her life is gone.”
Just a year on since losing his dad, Stewart is now determined to raise £4,000 to support local heart research funded by BHF NI.
“Losing dad has been heart breaking for us all. I really want to do my bit to help prevent similar heartbreak for other families by helping fund the vital heart research of BHF NI,” added Stewart.
“In memory of my dad, I have decided to cycle 400 miles around the coast and border of Northern Ireland over four days to raise £4,000 for BHF NI We are so touched by the support we have received already and we’re very proud to have so many great businesses sponsoring our event including Sharon Cheshire photography, bike technician Clive Anderson and official drone videographer, Pivotal Film.”
Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney thanked Stewart, his family and friends and work colleagues for their generosity:
“We are incredibly grateful to Stewart and his family for their incredible fundraising efforts, especially so soon after losing their beloved dad and husband. Stewart has already achieved half of his target, a testament not only to his efforts but also to how loved his father was by his family and the local community.
“We couldn’t fund our life-saving heart and circulatory disease research without the support of people like Stewart.”