Thousands are raised to help fund research

Some of the team who take part in the ride. James Chapple is pictured, front left.
Some of the team who take part in the ride. James Chapple is pictured, front left.

Hardy cyclists tackled a 100-mile bike ride to raise more than £10,000 for crucial eyesight-saving research, inspired by a brave little girl who has gone blind.

A 22-strong team pedalled for pounds in the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 last weekend, to help pioneering studies at the city-based Moorfields Eye Hospital.

Their gruelling efforts were motivated by eight-year-old Ella Chapple, who was born without irises, suffering from the rare genetic condition aniridia, that can lead to blindness.

The courageous youngster, who lives near to Guyzance, is also thought to be the only child in Northumberland with deafblindness – a combination of sight and hearing loss that affects a person’s ability to communicate and get around.

Last year, she lost her vision following five major operations to try to save it. She had detached her retinas through head-banging – brought on by frustration as her deafblindness had not been diagnosed until spring 2014.

Over the last four years, her inspirational parents, Elly and James, have raised more than £100,000 to support critical aniridia research under Dr Julie Daniels and her team at Moorfields.

And on Sunday, James, 40, was joined by 21 cyclists to complete the bike ride, which started at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London and finished on The Mall.

Money raised from the ride will go towards funding molecular biology techniques to try to treat aniridia-related keratopathy (ARK) – a condition which results in potentially blinding scarring of the normally transparent cornea on the front of the eye.

A share of the cash will go towards support group and charity, Aniridia Network UK.

James, who completed the ride in five hours and 47 minutes, which was in the top 16 per cent of the 26,000 riders taking part, said: “Money is still coming in and we will smash our £10,000 target, which we are over the moon about.

“The ride was great and everybody in our team made it round the course. I would like to thank them for all their help, as well as my wife Elly.

“Ella gave me a thumbs up after I told her that daddy had finished and everything went well.”

It is the third time that James and some of the team members have taken on the cycle challenge for the cause. To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/fqdt2015