260-mile charity ride for charity in support of St Albans schoolgirl

Abby Orchard and Mike Davis with Bessie, 6 and Ned Davis, 2. Bessie suffers from Neurofibromatosis a

Abby Orchard and Mike Davis with Bessie, 6 and Ned Davis, 2. Bessie suffers from Neurofibromatosis and her uncle is doing a charity cycle ride from Plymouth to St Albans to raise money for Great Ormond Street hospital - Credit: Archant

The family and friends of a little girl diagnosed with a condition that has left her wheelchair-bound will be pedalling over 260 miles to raise money for charity.

Little Bessie Davis, a Year 1 pupil at Alban City School, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis 1 last summer – a genetic condition which results in the growth of benign tumours.

After an MRI scan revealed a lump on her brain and optic nerve she started a course of chemotherapy and physiotherapy treatment.

However as the condition steadily got worse, she was given a wheelchair in November.

Her uncle David has rounded up the troops to join him on an epic four-day cycle from his hometown Plymouth to St Albans, to start on April 23.

A grand total of £9,222.50, with Gift Aid, has already been raised and all proceeds will go to the Neuro Foundation and Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Bessie is being treated.

Her mother Abby Orchard, who lives with Bessie, husband Mike and two-year-old son, in Ladysmith Road, St Albans, said: “My brother, her uncle Dudu, wanted to do something for the foundation to help fund them medically.

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“There is no cure for the illness and no one knows that much about it.

“He comes to stay a lot and is very close to Bessie so has been very affected by it.”

She added that although the condition was much more common than illnesses like cystic fibrosis its effects were very far-ranging.

“It’s turned her body into a tumour growing machine.

“But she has been incredible to be honest; children do have that resilience because they don’t really understand what is happening.

“It has been incredibly frustrating for her being in a wheelchair as she used to be running around and being active but she has had to miss play dates with her friends.

“But she is really starting to improve and is wanting to do more and more and push herself. She has even started to walk a few steps independently around the house which is really encouraging.”

She added that Bessie was now in school almost full-time and really enjoying it.

Bessie said: “I can’t wait to see my Uncle Dudu and my Grampy who is driving behind them too. My class and teachers in school are helping to make a ‘Finish’ banner so we can all cheer them in; hopefully they won’t be too tired to enjoy the party.”

Those taking part include a family neighbour, Daniel Sizer, a cousin of Abby and David’s and two of his friends from Plymouth.

Daniel said: “I just really wanted to do something to help. Bessie has been so brave and is a real inspiration to us all. I’ve never undertaken a distance anything like this before so it’s really exciting, if a little daunting.”

The team have created a social media campaign called ‘Bessie Bear’s Big Biking Adventure’ as she has chosen a teddy bear to accompany them. They will blog the trip on Facebook and Twitter and post pictures on Instagram before finishing off with a celebration party at Alban City School in Hatfield Road at lunchtime on Sunday, April 26.

Fundraisers hope to line the last stretch to collect money and Bessie plans to join them for the final stretch on a bike trailer.

To find out more visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/dudu08.