A father whose son’s life was saved by doctors at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital has just completed his final charity challenge and exceeded his target in raising over half a million pounds.
Ivan Hollingsworth, from Whitley Bay, cycled 268 miles and then ran 52 miles, or two consecutive marathons, travelling from London to the doors of the Freeman Hospital in just over 32 hours – battling against gruelling terrain, strong wind and sleep deprivation.
The challenge was the last in a long chain for Ivan. Alongside his wife, Nadine, Ivan has spent seven years raising money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) to thank the ward for saving his son’s life.
Sebastian Hollingsworth was only hours old when diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and just 16 weeks old when he underwent lifesaving heart surgery. Ivan and Nadine decided to raise money to support the charity and what followed was years of numerous challenges including stunts, ultra-endurance coast to coasts and even running 100 miles in 24 hours.
However, it was the last challenge “Half a million, half a country” that truly pushed Ivan’s endurance to the very edge. A challenge this extreme would be no easy feat for anyone – and with a headwind fighting against his progress, Ivan set off early from London on Saturday the 28th of October. It would be 33 hours later when he arrived back at the door of the Freeman Hospital, to be met by son Sebastian, daughter Imogen along with Nadine and the nurses, doctors and surgeon who saved Seb.
In total, the fundraising efforts of Seb4CHUF have now surpassed £500,000 for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF). Ivan commented on the challenge: “When we sat in intensive care, we decided we wanted to raise money for this place. Initially this was just to pay for one of the machines that kept Sebastian alive. Now, hitting half a million pounds is just amazing.”
However, Ivan was certain about one thing: “This was definitely my final challenge. The most brutal I’ve ever encountered. There were moments I didn’t think I would make it, like when I started to fall asleep on the bike, but remembering back to when we received the news that Sebastian would be okay got me through. These are all donations from normal people giving what they can and I hope others will still donate. Every single pound goes directly to supporting babies and children who are born with or who develop heart problems, by supporting CHUF we are helping people to achieve their dreams.”
You can find out more about how the challenge went and donate to Ivan’s fundraising efforts here.