A BEREAVED father who lost his baby daughter at just 83 minutes old will now brave the 320 mile Lang Way Doon cycle in 24 hours for CHAS after receiving support at the charity's Balloch Hospice, Robin House.

David Shields, dad of baby Freya, and six friends will begin their journey in Tongue, Lairg, and will make their way over the Cairngorms, then onto Perth, making a brief stop at Rachel House children’s hospice in Kinross before ending in the English border town of Coldstream.

To help the team complete the cycle – which has only been successfully completed by 20 other cyclists – they will be joined by a further supportive group of cyclists at Rachel House for the final 75 miles.

David is also raising money for the Simpsons Memory Box Appeal (SiMBA) and The Lola Commons Foundation in conjunction with SiMBA.

He said: "The hospice gave us a safe space for five days before Freya’s funeral, where nothing was too much and where Freya could be our daughter, not a baby who died.

"She had her own room and visitors signed in to visit Freya – which meant so much to us.

"We had time alone, together, crying, laughing, despairing and rejoicing at what we had and we had lost, but there was always someone willing to take on those moments with us, and treat us like a member of a big family.

"Freya’s brother Finn stayed with us at the hospice and we were able to make memories together as a family of four.

"That support continued in the months and the year since – we had regular phone calls from our key worker, we were invited to a remembering day and we went back to the hospice for Freya’s first birthday to create a memory page in the memory book.

“The hospice, the hospital staff and the work SiMBA did for us turned 83 short minutes of life into a permanent life in our family, and we can never repay that.

"We will forever be thankful for their love and care and Robin House will always be a special place to us, remembered with only happy thoughts.

"They can only reach 1:3 families who need them at the moment, and we want to change that."

Read more: Volunteer Week 2019: CHAS volunteers at Robin House

When David and his wife Kathleen attended a routine scan during their first trimester, the midwife found a high level of fluid on baby Freya’s neck.

One week later, following non-invasive genetic testing, the family were faced with a Trisomy 13 diagnosis - a fatal chromosome condition also known as Patau Syndrome.

Following the diagnosis, David and Kathleen were introduced to CHAS, which offers respite, end of life care and bereavement support to families with children with life-shortening conditions across the whole of Scotland.

The family were referred to Robin House in Balloch, and following Freya’s birth and short life of 83 minutes, the family chose to go to the hospice for bereavement support.

Samantha Riley, Senior Community Fundraiser, said: “We wish David and his friends the best of luck on ‘The Lang Way Doon’ and want to thank them for their incredible support and dedication.

“Three children, like Freya, die every week in Scotland of a life-shortening condition in Scotland.

"At CHAS we’re determined to be there for every one of them and offer our support.

"Amazing supporters like David and his team help us on this mission by raising much needed funds and awareness.”

Read more: Dumbarton teens raise funds for Robin House and Diabetes UK

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides hospice services for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

To donate to David’s Lang Way Doon challenge, see uk.virginmoneygiving.com/thelangwaydoon2019.