AN INSPIRING nurse who is cycling to every children’s hospice in the UK has stopped off in the North-East.

Francesca Lennon decided to cycle between all 54 children’s hospices in the United Kingdom to raise £500,000 for Together for Short Lives, a charity for young people who are expected to die at an early age.

The 35-year-old, who works as a children’s hospice nurse in Oxford, arrived at Butterwick Hospice Care, in Stockton – the 26th hospice on her journey – after cycling 1,675 miles.

She said: “I had the idea to do this three years ago when I was looking after seriously ill children and their families as an outreach nurse specialist, and it’s been my vision to make the biggest difference possible.”

Children and staff welcomed Francesca and her step-dad Tony Harris, who is accompanying her as a support driver and rider, to Butterwick House Children’s Hospice with homemade cakes, cards, and a banner, where Francesca spent time chatting with children and staff.

Ashleigh Wood, a fundraiser for Butterwick, said: “We’ve been following Francesca’s story and her progress closely, and it’s been so inspiring to welcome her to Butterwick.

“She knows better than anyone the incredible lengths that hospice nurses go to for the children in their care, how desperately-needed their work is, and how vital it is that we find ways to carry on providing this care for families in our communities.”

Francesca hopes to reach her final children’s hospice on August 25, in Bristol. So far, she has raised £43,769 of her £500,000 goal.

“It’s definitely been harder than I thought it would be,” Francesca admitted, “but when I’m struggling up the hills and I’m tired and exhausted, that’s what I think about: I know our families feel that way every day, so the least I can do is carry on going.

“Everyone involved in a children’s hospice shares that dedication to the children and families, that determination to get the best for them. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the word ‘hospice’ means, but actually we know that children’s hospices bring a lot of light to a family’s life.”