July’s Fundraiser of the Month goes to the man behind an inspirational charity bike ride – his name is Ashley Bell! Read on to find out more!

In July last year, Ashley’s daughter Iris underwent open heart surgery to have a mechanical valve fitted – aged just 5 months.

Iris was born with a congenital heart condition called mitral valve regurgitation and stenosis, meaning her heart was leaking causing pressure on her lungs and becoming larger to compensate.

Thankfully the surgery was a success, and Iris is healthy and growing as normal one year on.

To raise valuable funds for Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), Ashley set up the Ride for Iris  – a 100-mile cycle ride from Horncastle to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) where Iris was treated.

He thought at one point it might be just a handful of people taking part, but the list of riders who wanted to join him kept on growing.

On June 2, Ashley and almost 40 of his friends and colleagues completed the challenge and the fundraising total has exceeded all expectations. See his Just Giving page here.

There’s more detail on Ashley’s motivation for the event in this article by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Ashley also organised lots of other events in the lead-up to the big day including – work colleagues’ waxing and head shaving, supermarket bag pack, powerlifting competition “Lift for Iris”, hamper raffle, local collections and raffles, cake sales, bonus ball draw, dress down days at work and a car boot sale.

He gave this advice to anyone considering a big fundraising event:

Decide on a fundraising idea but allow plenty of time before the event to promote, use social media to help publicise and engage the local community.

And Ashley told us how CHSF specifically have helped Iris and the family during this turbulent time:

CHSF are big donors of Eckersley House which accommodated us during our time at LGI with Iris. This was vital as living 100 miles away this could have meant a lot of expense in finding somewhere to stay.

Oh, and of course Iris receiving her Katie Bear, medal and certificate will help us to explain to Iris about it all in years to come.

A massive thank you Ashley, and to your family, friends and colleagues – the fruits of your fundraising work will significantly improve the care and treatment of other patients with congenital heart disease.

If you’re looking to get involved with CHSF, take a look at our latest events or give us a call if you want to organise your own event and need help.

If you’d like to share your story, please e-mail bravehearts@chsf.org.uk or visit our #BecauseofYou page.