An Inverness businessman is preparing to take on Etape Loch Ness for a second time to raise money for a cause very close to his heart.
Peter Henderson will attempt to conquer the 66-mile route around the banks of Loch Ness to raise money for support charity SiMBA.
He aimed to raise £1,000 in support of their work, however, following an outpouring of donations, he has “annihilated” his fundraising target raising more than three times his pledge.
SiMBA was founded in 2005 to support expectant mothers who face the loss of a child.
Through the creation of their family rooms within maternity and neonatal units, it offers bereaved parents the opportunity to spend the most precious time with their baby in a peaceful and private setting.
An extensive project is now under way by the charity at Raigmore Hospital to create family rooms in wards across the hospital.
Family heartbreak uncovered
The work of SiMBA struck a cord with the 49-year-old businessman, after discovering his mother suffered 12 miscarriages prior to his birth as well as the loss of his twin.
Mr Henderson said it was a shock to discover his family’s devastating history from his nan after she “blurted it out” during a recent visit.
He said: “My nan blurted it out. When I visited my nan a while ago she said something about my twin and I didn’t know about that so then I checked with my aunties, all three of which are still alive, and they confirmed it.
“It was a shock. I was surprised about having a twin. I’ve never really felt it though. I know that some people feel the connection even with a dead sibling, but I have never felt I have missed anything.”
Etape Loch Ness
On August 22, Etape Loch Ness will return to the streets of the Highlands for the first time in two years.
Organisers were forced to pull the plug on the event last year due to the pandemic before postponing its return this year.
The 360° closed-road route around the loch starts and finishes in the Highland capital of Inverness, offering 900m of ascent.
A total of 5,600 people took to the course in 2019.
2021 marks the second time Mr Henderson has pledged to face the endurance challenge for charity, having previously completed the course in 2019 to raise money for Macmillan.
Through sharing his mothers heartbreaking story on his Just Giving Page, he discovered the “wonderful” work being done by SiMBA and adopted them as his chosen charity.
He believes his mother would have benefited from such facilities in her time and so is dedicating his cycle to raising awareness for the work being done to protect grieving parents in the Highlands.
“SiMBA is an amazing charity,” he said.
“I want to raise awareness to highlight that there is something for women and guys who have lost their children and that there is something going to be built for them, to spend their last or only hours or overnight with the child they will never have. It’s an amazing thing.
“I didn’t know about the charity before but if you go on their website, some of the stories are heartbreaking.
“I have no idea what conditions my mum would have had to accept these things in but I can’t imagine the hospital facilities would have been that great in the 70s sadly.”
“My wife is a student midwife so she has an association with the maternity unit so it would be nice to give something back to the community.”
“I don’t think I have done enough training”
Looking ahead to this months event, Mr Henderson, who runs the Milk Bar cafe in Inveress Victorian Market and Croy as well as the Cup and Cone cafe in Crown, admits he doesn’t think he has “done enough training”, however, he remains determined that he can cross the finishing line.
He says the biggest challenge will be reaching the top of Glendoe summit.
He added: “I have not done as much training this time around.
“I am not a cyclist first and foremost. I’m not one of those mad keen cyclists who is out there every day. I wasn’t a cyclist before the first Etape but I did train for about six months before it. This time I have not one so much training as the event has been on, then its been off and then its been on again.
“When we were told it was on and we first knew about it, it said we had eight weeks to prepare for it which is not a lot of time if you have not been training.
“Also, I have got three businesses in and around town so I have been involved heavily with those so the training has gone by the wayside but I’m still determined to do it.
“I was due an operation on my jaw down in Dundee within the year but that turned into within the week almost and that was two weeks ago. The operation is done, I have had it and recovered so I am still determined to do the ride.
“I get out whilst I can and I have done a few longer runs. I don’t think I have done enough training but I think I will make it.”
Community support smashes fundraising target
The Inverness businessman set up a Just Giving page, eager to raise £1,000 in donations for the charity.
Through promoting his cause through his business and on social media, he has already smashed his target prior to the event.
So far, he has tripled his pledge raising £3,030 with donations continuing to flood in.
The 49-year-old thanked the public for their support.
“It just shows that amazing support there is out there,” Mr Henderson said.
“I think it’s struck a cord with a lot of people.
“I have raised awareness through my three businesses. They are small businesses but we have a large following.
“As a barista I have talked to a lot of people and built up a lot of trust and relationships with people and I think that has gone a long way.
“One company have donated a lot of money to it. I think even in this climate, where not a lot of people have a lot of money, people still want to give. It is amazing. £3,000 is incredible.
He added: “They are helping any future or current mums to be that are going to have a lot of heartbreak and sadness but this will help. It will never bring back their child, but in the only moments that are going to have with that child before they have to bury them, they will have a nice environment to be in.
“It’s astonishing how many people have said to me that this story has touched a cord personally or with friends and family. Its astonishing how often this happens and it won’t just be the odd person, there will be many sadly.
“Hopefully when the unit gets built, a lot of people will benefit.”