A determined dad has taken on a mammoth 400-mile cycling challenge from London to Paris, raising over £3,600 as thank you for the care and treatment his son received for a brain tumour at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. 

When Stewart Doughty’s son, George, 14, started experiencing some blurred vision last year, Stewart took him to the opticians. After examining George, the optician raised concerns and explained that some further investigations would be needed to be done by an ophthalmologist at the local hospital. An MRI scan there showed an abnormality, and it was then the family was referred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for further scans.  

It was there that George and his shocked parents, Stewart and Sarah, received the devastating news that George had a brain tumour in his occipital lobe – the part of the brain at the back of the head, which is responsible for visual perception. The family was told it was a low-grade tumour, meaning it was slow growing and unlikely to spread 

The doctors explained they would need to undertake more tests to decide if George was a viable candidate for surgery. These examinations included mapping the electrical activity in his brain, which showed the tumour was causing seizures. Weighing up the pros and cons of surgery, doctors and the family decided it would be the best course of treatment.  

A few months later, George was called up for his operation, which lasted a long 10 hours. Thankfully, the tumour was fully removed, and George has recovered well. He is back at school and only attends appointments and scans to make sure the tumour has not returned.  

After George’s ordeal, Stewart felt compelled to give something back to the hospital. He decided fundraising was the best way to say thank you and settled on the 400-mile London to Paris cycle ride. Being a casual cyclist, it wasn’t until the training began that Stewart realised just how much of a challenge this would be. To get those training miles in, Stewart decided to cycle to and from work, working in longer routes to build up endurance ready for big ride 

The morning of the cycle came, and Stewart and his friend, Colin, set off early on the first leg of the journey from London to Dover. Despite the beautiful scenery as the duo made their way south, the cycle wasn’t without its challenges. Uneven terrain made it quite an uncomfortable journey but nonetheless, they persevered.  

After boarding a ferry to Dunkirk, the journey to Paris continued. However, now, Stuart and Colin would have to battle stifling high temperatures. This made the sight of the Eiffel Tower – the finishing point all the more euphoric and emotional, as Stewart thought about his achievement, but also the journey George has been on. 

Stewart said:To find out your child has a brain tumour is one of the worst things you can go through as a parent, which is why I'll never be able to thank Birmingham Children’s Hospital enough for helping George. His recovery has been remarkable, and every minute of the gruelling cycle challenge was worth it, knowing the money I’ve raised will support other kids during their treatment.” 

Stewart has chosen to donate the money raised to the charity’s £1.5m iMRI Appeal, to bring intraoperative MRI technology to the hospital, which will support surgeons during brain tumour and epilepsy surgery. The technology is something George would have benefited from during his surgery and could reduce the time a child is under anaesthesia, as well as provide surgeons with ‘live,’ up-to-date pictures of the patient’s brain, as they operate 

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: We’re so glad to hear George is doing so well, and thankful to Stewart for using his hospital experience as motivation to fundraise for our charity. 

“We’re so close to reaching the target in our iMRI Appeal, and Stewart’s money brings us one step closer to transforming brain tumour and epilepsy surgery for children who need this treatment in the future.”