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Plucky parents saddle up for 500-mile NC500 challenge inspired by incredible daughter Rivy for CHAS

By Hector MacKenzie

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Rivy (River) Sinclair-Hennessey was energetic, curious and loved learning.
Rivy (River) Sinclair-Hennessey was energetic, curious and loved learning.

A HIGHLAND couple gearing up for a 500-mile bike ride to raise £10,000 for charity in memory of their beloved daughter have been given strong endorsement on the eve of departure.

Sheena Sinclair, Dave Hennessy and three of their friends will set off on the NC500 charity cycle from Inverness Castle on Monday (September 25).

In aid of Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) it will be a huge challenge for Sheena and Dave, who are not experienced cyclists.

The determined duo wanted to do something that would “push them outside their comfort zone” in tribute to their “brave little girl who endured so many challenges herself in her short life”.

River (Rivy) Sinclair-Hennessey was born prematurely on August 7, 2018 at Raigmore Hospital, weighing only 3lb 12oz.

The tiny tot was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects roughly one in 18,000 people in the UK and can affect different organs in the body. For Rivy this included issues with her heart.

Despite her complex health issues Rivy was determined to enjoy life from the very beginning. She was happy, energetic, curious and loved learning.

She loved music and being creative and spending time with her friends and key workers at Ankerville Nursery in Tain.

Sheena said: “Our beautiful Rivy brought joy and shared it generously wherever she went. If you were having a rubbish day, you just had to spend some time having some cuddles with Rivy and the world would seem better.”

Sadly, on August 9 last year, just two days after her fourth birthday, Rivy died unexpectedly following a planned surgery in Glasgow.

Mrs Sinclair, who is a nurse, said: “We were absolutely devastated, heartbroken and certainly not ready to say goodbye.

Sheena and Dave with friends Caroline Reid, Shaun Bremner and Greg Wilmot will take on the NC500.
Sheena and Dave with friends Caroline Reid, Shaun Bremner and Greg Wilmot will take on the NC500.

"Thankfully CHAS offered us a lifeline by stepping in and offering for us to bring Rivy to the Rainbow Room at Rachel House in Kinross where we were able to be supported to help us begin to say goodbye and also make arrangements for us to bring our little girl home before the funeral service.

“CHAS literally saved us at the worst imaginable time. They were there for all three of us and they remain so today.

"That’s why we wanted to do this cycle fundraiser to say thank you to the charity for being there for us and help raise awareness of the amazing work they do right across Scotland.

“Prior to last August, I'd only heard of CHAS because Rivy's best friend’s family received support but I didn’t fully appreciate what they did for so many families like us across the whole of Scotland.

"What they do is just incredible and we would love for more people to know about the amazing services they offer.

“Doing this cycle has given us something all-consuming to focus on and channel our grief and will push us to our limits and beyond, which is something Rivy had no choice but to do every single day. That’s why we’re using the hashtag #bemorerivy for our fundraiser.”

CHAS community fundraiser Ruathy Donald said: “We are so grateful to Sheena and Dave for taking on this amazing fundraiser for CHAS in memory of Rivy.

"All funds raised will help us continue to support children with life-shortening conditions and their families both locally and right across Scotland.”

Good luck messages have flooded in – amongst them from two times World's Strongest Man, Tom Stoltman, who is from Invergordon. He posted: "River's amazing parents are taking on an incredible challenge in her memory." He added: "As hard as times are. please try and give to raise as much money as possible."

The cyclists plan covering the route over seven consecutive days.

They have already raised over £5000 – more than half their target.

To donate to Sheena and Dave’s charity cyle visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-our-daughter-river-bemorerivy

To find out more about CHAS visit www.chas.org.uk

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