A BEREAVED father has raised thousands for charity in a show of gratitude for the “safe space” CHAS’ Balloch hospice gave his family before the funeral of his baby daughter.

David Shields and six friends completed the 310-mile Lang Way Doon in memory of Freya recently, a challenge which has only previously been completed by 20 cyclists.

From Hamilton, the group of seven began their 310 mile journey in Tongue, Lairg, going over the Cairngorm mountain range and finishing at the Scottish border town of Coldstream in 22 hours 27 minutes, after climbing 16,500 feet.

David said: “I’m so proud of our team and our amazing achievement of raising £6,566 (and rising) for both CHAS and SiMBA, who cared for my family at the worst time imaginable.”

Read more: Dad's Lang Way Doon cycling challenge for daughter

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.

David added: “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.

“When we went for a rest, we were assured that the nurses would ‘check on her’ for us, and her room was always beautifully lit, surrounded by our personal things and felt like a little home for a few days.

“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.

“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.”

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The support has continued in the months and the year since and the couple have had regular phone calls from their key worker, as well as being invited to a remembering day and back to the hospice for Freya’s first birthday to create a memory page in the memory book.

Samantha Reilly, senior community fundraiser at CHAS, told the Reporter: “We want to thank David and his amazing team of friends for their incredible support and dedication.”

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