‘WITHOUT the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, I would not have met my girlfriend.’
And that is why 23-year-old Tom Brading cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise £1,000 for the charity that supported his girlfriend Cozette, who was born with rare liver disease, biliary atresia, when she underwent a life-saving liver transplant at two years old.
Tom said: ‘I know that the charity provided invaluable support to Cozette and her family at a really difficult time.
‘Without the fundraising and support which they gave, things could have gone very differently.
‘I am so lucky to have met her and this might not have been possible if it wasn’t for the work that Children’s Liver Disease Foundation do.’
The engineering apprentice from Gosport completed the 900-mile challenge with two other friends who were fundraising for Epilepsy UK and the Alex Evans Fund.
Tom said: ‘It was always going to be a combination of physical and mental stamina and endurance and I can certainly say that the physical side was easier than I expected, but the mental component was a little harder.
‘For example, on just the second day as we were coming out of Cornwall and into Devon, we’d been riding on dual-carriageways for most of the day and had already done some pretty nasty hills.
‘We stopped at a service station and it hit me that this was barely a tenth of the journey. I began to think we weren’t going to make it, but my mate had a chat with me and helped me out.’
The trio camped along the route, carrying their kit and supplies on their bikes.
Tom added: ‘Overall the experience was one of the best things I’ve done in life - I still can’t believe it when I look at the map of the UK, and I can say ‘I’ve cycled the length of that!’ It has also taught me that no-one should ever give up on any goal or target whether it be physical or mental - you always have more left in the tank and its always a bigger tank than you think.’
Alison Taylor, chief executive of the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation said: ‘We are the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases and we rely almost entirely on voluntary donations so we are delighted with what Tom has achieved.
‘This is a tremendous effort, not just in terms of amazing physical endurance but all the training, planning and fundraising he has had to do. He should be really proud of himself and we are very grateful to him.’
To donate visit justgiving.com/fundraising/thomas-brading