Saffron Walden man ready for 400-mile bike ride challenge

A FATHER, who is about to embark on a 400-mile bike ride, has told the Reporter that the challenge will be nothing compared to the emotional journey of waiting to see if his premature baby son would survive.

Saffron Walden couple Nigel and Eleanor Bailey had their lives thrown upside down when their third child, Eoin, was born at 26 weeks – a life-threatening three months early.

“He nearly didn’t make it and was in hospital for three months,” said Mr Bailey, “during which time he had several blood transfusions, meningitis and other infections and many times took two steps back for every one forward.”

Eoin, two, was born at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge weighing little more than one kilogram. He was later moved to the neonatal unit a Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

“Since Eoin has come out of hospital, we have tried to turn one of the most stressful periods of our lives into one of the most positive in both raising awareness and fundraising,” said Mr Bailey, who works for Oakland Innovation in Babraham.

“I am on the East England Neonatal Network Board as a parent representative whilst Eleanor is on the Bliss Parents Advisory Board and also helped to set up a parents support group at Addenbrooke’s.”

The couple are active fundraisers for Bliss, the charity for premature and sick babies which gave them a lot of support and information after Eoin’s birth. Last year Mrs Bailey ran the Great North Run and now, Mr Bailey will ride from Cambridge to Paris for the charity.

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“I am cycling from Cambridge to London alone,” said the 36-year-old scientific consultant. “The idea being to link the two hospitals where my son was cared for, Addenbrooke’s and Princess Alexandra, and the Bliss HQ in London.

“I then join a large group for a ride from London to Paris. Approximate mileages each day are 65 from Cambridge to London, 95 from London to Dover, and then 95, 85 and 65 for the three days across France – around 400 miles in total.

“I have been training since last October and since then have cycled over 3000 miles in training and in the particularly nasty weather of the winter experienced two crashes.”

Setting off on June 15, Mr Bailey will be back before Eoin’s third birthday on June 22. The couple, who live in Lavender Fields, have two other children, Ciara, seven, and Connor, four.

To help Mr Bailey reach his �2000 target for Bliss sponsor him at To find out more about his experience of having a premature baby read his blog at