KEEN cyclists have raised thousands of pounds to help premature babies see.
Ian Smith and his team of fund-raisers presented Sunderland Eye Infirmary with a cheque for £5,000.
The money will go towards a £70,000 machine for the Children’s Eye Unit, to screen for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), an eye disease affecting babies born too early.
Ian, 57, from Sunderland, and six friends took part in a 210-mile ride, from Edinburgh to Tynemouth that took three days.
Ian, whose wife Jackie is a secretary at the eye hospital, suggested they donate sponsor money towards the RetCam – which captures full colour images that can be stored instantly and reviewed during a child’s follow up appointments.
The property company services manager has been taking on charity challenges for nearly 30 years, with a group of friends he has affectionately nicknamed, ‘The Raggy Lads’. He said: “I’ve done John O’Groats to Land’s End, the Coast to Coast, everything.
“We just try to do things for charities in the Sunderland area.”
Dr. Lawrence Gnanaraj, clinical director at the Eye Infirmary, said: “The money donated will be used to fund a RetCam.
“We will be able to better evaluate the status of this potentially blinding eye condition and the efforts of Ian and his friends are very much appreciated by the Children’s Eye Unit”.
In July Ian and a group of 40 charity champs will be taking up Skiddaw mountain in the Lake District, to help Sunningdale School in Sunderland buy a new mini-bus.
Among those scaling the 931-metre peak will be Ian’s wife Jackie and children Craig, 29, and Lauren, 21, and the partners of the ‘Raggy Lads’.
Ian thanked everyone who has been involved with the fund-raising drive, including John Angus, from Ashwood Engineering, Andrew Scott, from Bell Motors, who lent the cyclists an 18-seater Mercedes, and Tracy McCluskey, from Relish the Thought sandwich bar, who rustled up refreshments for the riders.