Read Harry's story, told by his mum, Nicola:
He never let his diagnosis affect his passion for the sport
Harry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in February 2017. A keen cyclist we knew something was wrong when we could keep up with him on a family bike ride. He was tired, lethargic and drinking water constantly, so we took him to the GP where he was diagnosed in minutes and rushed to QMC Hospital in Nottingham. Harry was in DKA but luckily after a few days in hospital he recovered, bouncing back quickly.
Returning to school within the week he was desperate to be back cycling with his friends at Nottingham Clarion and Abbey Road Primary School Bike Club. His teacher Helen Dussek, Head Coach at ARBC, supported Harry and within weeks he was back cycling and racing. Harry never let his diagnosis affect his passion for the sport, and armed with jelly babies he was back on his bike.
A big challenge
Helen Dussek had always talked about a big challenge for Abbey Road Primary School Bike Club. Along with Ly Toom (Head Teacher) they decided 2017 was the year for the Abbey Road Primary School 24 hour Cyclathon. Harry had been an active member of the school cycling club since he was 6, so when Helen approached me to say that one of the chosen charities would be Diabetes UK I was incredibly touched.
Harry has always loved sport and understands the benefit of exercise in managing diabetes, like going for a run round the block to reduce his sugar levels rather than having another dose of insulin. The staff at QMC have been hugely supportive. His Diabetes Nurse Specialist, Vreni Verhoeven, a keen triathlete, has offered some great advice to Harry about managing blood glucose for optimum performance.
Harry had been an active member of the school cycling club since he was 6
The Abbey Road Cyclathon
The Abbey Road Cyclathon took place on 30 June and as the day grew closer Harry baked flapjacks and worked out how far the cyclists could travel - a distance equivalent to cycling to Barcelona seemed like a real challenge. He set about fundraising, knocking on neighbour’s doors and telling relatives. Competition set in amongst his friends to see who could raise the most.
Harry was so excited for the big day by the time it came around. The cycling coaches had created a fantastic 1km course; including hills and twists and turns to keep the children interested. At 9am Harry led the Grand Depart with his friend George (cycling for Heart Link after major heart surgery in January that year, another incredible story). Throughout the day children from every class in the school were given the opportunity to cycle. When not cycling Harry cheered and supported his friends, running alongside some of the very young children.
Aiming for 100 laps
We had to drag him away at 9pm after he’d cycled about 50 laps. But it was only to get home to bed for four hours' sleep because as a family we’d been picked to cycle the 2-4am slot. We got up at 1am and headed back to school. During this stint Harry was keen to ensure that the cycling was continuous and took extra laps for his friends.
We convinced him to have a quick rest but from 6-9am he just wouldn’t come off the course, aiming for 100 laps: his competitive streak kicked in. We handed him food as he went past the feed station and had to do quick blood glucose checks. He loved every minute and the feeling as we all cycled the last lap was amazing.
As a school we cycled over 6,000 laps of the 1km course, we surpassed our expectation of Barcelona and actually the distance we covered was equivalent to getting to the West Coast of the USA.
It’s a day Harry will never forget. The school raised over £4,000 to be split across three charities with over £1,253 going to Diabetes UK. I think he’s inspired his Dad: next year he’s cycling the Ride London-Surrey for Diabetes UK.
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