To mark the beginning of The Hewitt Fertility centre’s support for National Fertility Awareness Week, a group of staff decided to do something a little special to honour the occasion.
Mark Hargreaves, Paul Mallanaphy, Pauline Green and Lee Jones set out from Liverpool Women’s Hospital with the aim of completing a 100 mile round trip to Kershaw’s Clinic in Oldham - the site of the first IVF treatment 40 years ago - and back again.
After 100 miles, three flat tyres and some questionable navigating, the team arrived back at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital after almost 10 hours of cycling.
Meeting at 7:00am at the main entrance of the hospital, filled to the brim with strong coffee. Pockets bulging with energy bars and spare inner tubes, the team was ready to set off.
What is difficult to gather from this picture is just how cold it was. As you can see, Paul thought short sleeves were the way forward...A decision, I think he quickly began to regret.
Ups And Downs:
This was the first, and definitely not the last stop to change a flat tyre. An enormous screw would see Paul’s entire back wheel, tyre and inner tube punctured; an issue that would continue to rear its head throughout the journey. By the third puncture to Paul's back tyre we were pretty much out of inner tubes and gas canisters to fix it.
It was looking grim. We were going to have to limp to a nearby train station with our tails between our legs and call it a day.
Heads bowed and spirits low, it was a chirpy Lancashire voice that would offer redemption. "Do you need a hand?"
The unnamed mancunian explained how he had been carrying a puncture repair kit and a spare tube round in his backpack for years but never had any call to use it. He said that it was ours if we needed it. Tyre off, tube changed, a thousand thank-you's to our unknown saviour; and off we went.
The team made it to Kershaw’s Clinic just after midday, snapping a group shot in front of the blue plaque marking the site at which the very first successful IVF treatment was carried out.
By this point our legs were beginning to feel a little fatigued but there was a long way to go to make it back to Liverpool and - with the clocks having gone back the weekend before - the sun was already beginning to set.
100 Miles And 40 Years:
Seeing the small and unassuming buildings that once played host to one of the most important and life-changing technological advancements of the 20th century was fantastic. While on the ride the thoughts of sore legs and road traffic kept us distracted, however when we reached our destination it was possible to take a moment to appreciate the importance of what took place in that building all those years ago.
Home! Hungry enough to eat a horse and in dire need of a long hot bath; the team arrived back at the Hospital under cover of darkness at around 5:30PM.
We were thoroughly proud of ourselves and all the people who helped us along the way. Without the support of countless others in the hospital and on the day we would likely have turned back by the time we got to Sefton Park.