Fylde cyclists take on coast to coast challenge in memory of baby girl who died of heart problems

Twelve intrepid local cyclists joined a team of 16 on an epic bike ride in memory of a baby who sadly died of heart problems.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 11:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 8:14 am

Greg and Jill Johnston set up a small charity called Team Evie in 2015 following the death of their daughter.

Carly Webster, from Lytham, knows the family and has been responsible for rallying people across the Fylde coast to support the charity’s next fundraising challenge which started on Friday.

The coast to coast ride took in 141 miles and some serious hills over three days from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Tynemouth in Tyneside.

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Evie Johnston, whose parents set up a charity called Team Evie following her death

Carly said: “The event needed a certain amount of people to be viable; it’s been so difficult for the charity over the last couple of years, especially as they work in the medical sector.

“I know the family through a friend and their story really touched my heart.

"Originally there were only four people signed up from Cumbria, but the response from locals here has been fantastic.

"There was a real mix of people doing it, from serious cyclists to Sunday enthusiasts, but we were all up for the challenge and the community got behind us.

Greg and Jill Johnston with Evie, who died of heart problems

“I’ve done a couple of events for Team Evie in the past, but it’s been a while since I’ve done this much training!”

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The heartbroken parents of Evie, who died of heart problems in a Newcastle hospital, set up the charity in her name to help other sick children and their families across their region.

Since then, they have raised thousands of pounds for medical equipment, staff training, and breaks away for bereaved families.

Carly Webster and Maleeha Sharkey, from Lytham, who are taking part in a bike ride in aid of Team Evie

Team Evie hope to raise £5,000 from this weekend’s challenge.

Greg and two others went along for the ride in back up vehicles, supporting and organising cyclists along the route – with the aim of everyone enjoying the weekend with nothing to worry about other than pedalling.

Maleeha Sharkey, also from Lytham, was looking forward to her first major cycling event.

She said: “I agreed to doing it after a glass of wine and a chat to Carly one night, and then realised later what the challenge was!

Jill and Evie Johnston

"I have done some cycling before but never on this scale. I’ve been looking forward to it though; the support from the other team members has been amazing.

“Everyone has been helping each other with training and equipment.

"One of the professional cyclists, Les Currie, has been organising training sessions for everyone, including pro spin classes and route planning.

"One weekend we did hill sprints outside Kirkham!

“I’m so happy I signed up; it’s that feeling of being able to make a difference.”

Evie, who was born on March 30, 2015 and died aged six months, spent most of her short life in hospital after being diagnosed with heart and digestive problems.

Her family describe her as ‘an incredible baby who was so happy, loving and absolutely beautiful.”

The Team Evie charity donates to 20 different wards and medical teams across the North by raising vital funds to buy physiotherapy equipment, sensory equipment, comfort items, portable libraries, TVs, iPads for patients and staff training, Christmas and Easter hampers, as well as breaks away for bereaved families.

To donate and find out more information about the Team Evie charity, visit https://teamevie.org