A TRIO of grateful fathers will cycle 260 miles between specialist NHS centres this weekend to thank staff who treated their children.

Among the charity riders will be Adrian Crookes, a Business Intelligence Manager at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH).

His daughter, 15-year-old Lucy, was born with craniosynostosis, a rare birth defect where the bones in a baby’s skull join together too early.

She has received treatment and care from the Oxford Craniofacial Unit since her diagnosis just after her first birthday.

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At 17 months, Lucy underwent remodelling surgery to correct the shape of her skull and allow her brain to grow normally.

Her father said: “It will be 14 years in August since Lucy had her surgery, but during that time our gratitude and admiration for the team who did their amazing work on Lucy has not diminished. From a parent’s perspective it was hugely reassuring to be looked after so well locally, in the city we lived in, knowing that other unfortunate families have to travel the length and breadth of the country to access such expert services."

Mr Crookes, who has worked for the trust for 19 years, will be joined by friends Phil Sutton and Lee Amey, as well as James Blanchard who has volunteered to drive a support vehicle.

They are all fathers who have children with craniofacial conditions who have had surgery at one of England's four specialist craniofacial centres over the years.

Oxford Mail:

Lucy, aged one, the day after her remodelling surgery

Starting at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool on Friday, the intrepid team will cycle on to Birmingham and Oxford on Saturday before finishing at Great Ormond Street on Sunday.

The ride is being organised to raise funds for each unit and for Headlines, a national charity that supports families of those affected by craniosynostosis and other rare craniofacial conditions.

Mr Crookes said: “All four of us dads know how lucky our children have been to receive such amazing care and support from Headlines and the hospitals, so we wanted to give something back – even though, as middle aged dads, we probably should know better than to attempt such a mammoth ride."

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Lucy, who also had minor surgery in 2015, initially returned for six-monthly consultations with the Craniofacial team following her operation, before this was extended to yearly as she got older and, more recently, to appointments every other year.

She hopes to be discharged by the time she turns 18 in 2022.

The teenager, who is a keen runner, said: “I’ve learnt a lot over the years about what happened to me and the care I received.

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"It’s also been really great to meet other children with similar conditions and make new friends through the Headlines activity weekends we go on, and I talk to lots of them regularly."

The three dads have already raised more than £10,000 for their chosen charities, and hope to get close to £12,000 by the time they complete their ride.

Just under £3,000 raised by Mr Crookes from running the London Marathon in April is included in the total. Donate by searching Headlines Hospital Hop at uk.virginmoneygiving.com.