Wellingborough man takes part in 1,200-mile cycle challenge in memory of lost baby daughter

Russell Palmer (left) and Luke Barker train for the big cycle challenge
Russell Palmer (left) and Luke Barker train for the big cycle challenge

A Wellingborough father whose first baby was stillborn is taking on an epic cycling challenge to raise money for the charities which helped him through the “life-changing” loss.

Luke Barker, of Wentworth Avenue, will be cycling the longest possible route between John O’Groates and Land’s End – a total distance of 1,200 miles – with his brother-in-law Russell Palmer.

Their aim is to raise more than £2,000 for charities SANDS and Children Are Butterflies, which offered support to him and his wife when they lost their daughter Jasmine Isla Barker at birth nearly three years ago.

Mr Barker, 29, said: “We’ve been training hard for our Jogle 4 Jasmine challenge and I’m looking forward to it, but starting to get a bit nervous now.

“It will just be the two of us with no support cars and no hotels, as we will be camping along the way and carrying all our equipment and spare parts with us.

“The plan is to travel 85 miles per day, which should take us about two weeks.

Jasmine Isla Barker's grave with her dad's bike

Jasmine Isla Barker's grave with her dad's bike

“It’s my way of trying to make a difference and the impact that Jasmine never got the chance to make.”

Even though Mr Barker now has a happy and healthy 18-month-old son named Joel, the loss of his first child is still deeply important to him.

The IT worker said: “It was a life-changing loss, but instead of staying depressed about it I want to try to bring something positive out from it.”

Commenting on the experience, after his daughter was born not breathing on September 14, 2012, he said: “The first time I held my daughter it was the most powerful feeling of love and emotion.

“I couldn’t understand how I could have felt so much love for a person that did not take a breath of fresh air, that I hadn’t met before and did not have any time to make happy memories with.

“Yet I was completely besotted. As I held her I promised her that her nine months in her mother’s womb would not be in vain, and through her memory we would help prevent this happening as often as it does, and when it does there will be support.”

Mr Barker and Mr Russell are already more than £1,000 towards achieving their fundraising their target, which will be split between both charities: SANDS, which organises support networks and events for families who have lost a child, and Children Are Butterflies, which helps to cover funeral costs.

“Both charities absolutely helped us a lot,” said Mr Barker.

“SANDS provided a memory box for us containing a lock of Jasmine’s hair, pictures, hand and foot prints, a snow drop flower and two bears: one stays at home with us and the other is keeping Jasmine safe.

“Children Are Butterflies helped us so much when it came to arranging Jasmine’s funeral and the attention they paid to detail was immeasurable.

“These wonderful charities have left a big print on my heart and I will be eternally grateful.”

To add your support to the challenge, you can donate by visiting: www.virginmoneygiving.com/jogle4jasmine or by following: @jogle4jasmine on Twitter or www/facebook.com/jogle4jasmine on Facebook.