Bury St Edmunds: Tragic loss of baby Billy prompts dad’s 215-mile cycle challenge
17:49 21 July 2014
A father who lost his newborn son to a severe form of meningitis is to cycle more than 200 miles to raise money for the charity that is striving to educate prospective parents about the condition.
Tom Pegg, 37 and his fiancé Ursula Bradshaw, 36, were devastated when their first child, Billy, died just days after being born in March this year.
Within hours of his birth, Billy developed meningitis caused by Group B Streptococcus – also known as group B Strep or GBS. The bacterium, which is found in around one in four women, can be passed to babies around birth and is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborns.
Neither of the couple had ever heard of group B strep before Billy contracted the condition.
Ms Bradshaw, from Culford near Bury St Edmunds, said: “Within 24 hours of being born, Billy was fighting for his life and his prognosis got bleaker and bleaker very rapidly. It is a traumatic story of joy that quickly turned to the complete opposite.”
Mr Pegg, a recruitment consultant, added: “We are only now slowly coming to terms with our loss and can be thankful that Billy suffered no pain, and we don’t blame anyone for what has happened.
“But no-one told us we could have a test to warn about the possibility of this happening and had we known about it, we would definitely have taken the test.”
Now Mr Pegg is to undertake a cycle ride to increase awareness of GBS and to raise £2,000 for the charity Group B Strep Support, which is campaigning for a national screening programme to test expectant women for GBS so that those at risk can be given the option of intravenous antibiotics during labour.
He will set off from the Angel Hill in Bury on August 29 on the three-day 215-mile ride via central London and down to Somerset.
“I wanted to do the cycle ride while it was fresh in everyone’s minds,” Mr Pegg continued.
“It will focus on what we are raising money for and will hopefully enlighten people that they can request a test and have medication during the birth if they choose to.”
He will be joined on parts of the ride by friends, and has been overwhelmed by the support of family members including Billy’s grandfather, James Bradshaw.
Mr Pegg added: “Cycling is really catching on in the UK but 215 miles is still a big undertaking - I have been very surprised by the level of support.
“I set out with a target of £2,000 which has already been exceeded by £400 and I hope to be able to raise even more.”