Lucy Searle, mother of 10-year-old Edie, who was diagnosed with encephalitis in the UK, is planning a 300-km cycle ride across Kerala as part of a fundraising mission for the Whittington Hospital, where the child was treated. The team, including Lucy Searle, Edie and her paediatrician Dr Kerry Robinson, will come to Kerala for a week-long ride on March 3 next year. A resident of Muswell Hill, a suburb of North London, she is aiming to raise at least £20k (Rs 17.1 lakh) and has already raised at least £3,149 (Rs 2.69 lakh) through an online campaign page ‘JustGiving’. The amount will be handed over to the Whittington Hospital Charitable Funds. In an e-mail interaction on Thursday, Lucy said that the funds would be used for a makeover of the playground at the hospital, because it looks unusable and depressing. Responding to questions, she told a heartwarming tale behind her tough decision to come down to Kerala.
It was in 2011, she says, her younger daughter Edie was diagnosed with encephalitis and was rushed to The Whittington Hospital with her first seizure. She spent three nights battling the illness in the general paediatric ward and Intensive Care Unit, where she spent another 10 days, then a further week in the high dependency unit. They were told by doctors to expect the worst — and that if she did pull through, the best case scenario would be that she would be left with epilepsy. She did make it, but was left with epilepsy resulting in many trips to The Whittington where she spent many days and nights overlooking the deeply depressing outdoor space that could, with a bit of investment, be a great place for recovering children to look at or even play in and for parents to get a breath of much-needed fresh air. That’s how Lucy took up this challenge to convert the free space at the hospital.
The 51-year-old said that she had never been to Kerala before. “My husband David had been to India more than once and told me that it was wonderful and that Kerala is beautiful. We picked Kerala because it is so different from London. We are surrounded by concrete and cold weather. We thought people in London, who might support our fundraising, would find Kerala an interesting location,” she said She said that Edie had already raised £10 by selling the loon bands she makes at home along with her mother at the front gate of her school. Lucy, a journalist by profession, will be cycling with her daughter's doctor, who chalked out this challenging idea. They won’t be asking for money from anyone in Kerala. “If anyone would like to donate, it would be welcomed,” she said. “We are coming to Kerala to spend money like any tourists would. We will pay for our trip, which we hope will benefit local guides and communities.”