On Sunday 1 May 2016, the unthinkable happened to Andy and Michelle Cottle; on the day that their baby had reached full term, they were told that her little heart had stopped beating – no explanation, no apparent cause and nothing that could be done. On Tuesday 3 May at 7.30am, peacefully and quietly their beautiful baby girl Orla Maisy Cottle arrived.
To honour Orla, Andy, with the support of Michelle, set off exactly three months after Orla’s birth to cycle from Canada to Mexico – an amazing 1883.2 miles which he completed in just 36 days!
To put this amazing achievement into context, in those 36 days Andy:
- Cycled 1883.2 miles - that's the same as going round the M25 16.1 times. If we add his training miles (1450.9), this would increase to 28.5 laps.
- Climbed 34,060 metres, which is the same as climbing Mount Everest 3.85 times.
- Burnt 111,400 calories, which is the equivalent of 198 Big Macs.
- Cycled for 123 hours - that would be 5.1 days non stop.
Michelle, “I didn’t really fully understand what stillbirth meant until we were faced with this harsh reality and certainly didn’t know how common it is. As a psychologist, I am constantly advocating to break down barriers of shame and stigma in relation to mental health – and yet I found myself in this horrific situation that no one seems to talk about. From the start, Andy and I have said that we can’t just sit back and do nothing about this. We have found so much comfort in reading other peoples’ stories and connecting with those who tread the same path; but we want to do something that might help reduce the number of people that need to. We want to raise awareness by speaking out and to raise money to support charities that fight so hard to reduce the rates of stillbirth.”
To date Andy and Michelle have raised more than £12,000.00! Michelle also continues to write and raise awareness through her blog Dear Orla and you can still donate via their JustGiving page.
Speaking of their fundraising achievement, Michelle said, “To achieve this in such a short time was so much more than we had ever expected! We are really happy that we have been able to give back to Sands as it was your leaflets and website that got us through those first few days - I don't know how we would have survived without them.”
Carolyn Bray, Fundraising and Events Manager at Sands said, “We are very grateful to Andy and Michelle for undertaking their incredible challenge across several countries to raise funds for Sands. Many have told us how they find comfort in sharing stories with other bereaved families and wish to raise awareness going forwards. Our fundraisers are invaluable to Sands and their achievements are an inspiration to us all. We would like to thank Andy, Michelle and their supporters, as well as all of our amazing fundraisers for everything they do.”