Fundraising Leeds duo reach Arctic Circle in cycling tribute to likes of late Ellie Mae

Rod Wark and Duncan Brownnutt reach the Arctic Circle Centre, in Norway, with BDFA mascot Boris the bear.
Rod Wark and Duncan Brownnutt reach the Arctic Circle Centre, in Norway, with BDFA mascot Boris the bear.
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A loving Leeds dad has conquered a mammoth 500-mile tandem bike ride to the Arctic Circle just three months after the tragic loss of his daughter.

Duncan Brownnutt, from Cookridge, arrived at the Arctic Circle Centre, in Norway, earlier this week with family friend Rod Wark, having raised £12,500 for the Batten Disease Family Association (BDFA).

Duncan Brownnutt with his children Caleb and Ellie Mae earlier this year.

Duncan Brownnutt with his children Caleb and Ellie Mae earlier this year.

The charity supports families with children affected by Late Infantile Batten Disease, which is a rare degenerative illness that starts at the age of three and sees children lose their mobility, speech and eyesight. There is no known cure.

Duncan’s children, Ellie Mae, six, and Caleb, five, were both diagnosed with the disease days before Christmas 2013. Ellie Mae passed away at Martin House Hospice in May while Caleb’s condition is worsening.

Duncan, 40, said: “It’s a lovely sense of achievement but more importantly we feel we’ve really got people talking about the condition and helped to improve everyone’s understanding of Batten Disease.

“At the end of the day all we’ve done is ride a bike for a few days and, although it was hard in places, me and Rod really enjoy bikes – not tandems, I hate tandems – but the kids we’ve been supporting are facing real struggles. They couldn’t do this challenge if they wanted to, they couldn’t ride a bike to the end of the road unassisted, they can’t see the scenery to appreciate it, they can’t even understand what’s happening to them in many cases.”

Rod Wark and Duncan Brownnutt on their tandem. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Rod Wark and Duncan Brownnutt on their tandem. Picture by Tony Johnson.

The pair posted updates via a ‘Cycle to the Circle’ blog and Facebook group during the ride with BDFA mascot Boris the bear. They cycled from Roros, Norway, where the first case of Batten Disease was reported.

Late Infantile Batten Disease affects just one to three children in the UK every year. Visit justgiving.com/Duncan-Brownnutt4 to donate.

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