What we do

The Daisy Garland charity was set up in November 2004 to keep Daisy's memory alive and to help other little children like her.

We fund an increasing number of Ketogenic Dietitians who work in National Health Hospitals treating hundreds of children with intractable epilepsy.

We are the only charity funding full-time Ketogenic Dietitians working within NHS hospitals nationwide - each dietitian costs up to £47,000 per annum. If you think you could help us fund our next Daisy Garland Ketogenic Dietitian go to HOW YOU CAN HELP. Be in touch today.

Epilepsy affects 1 in every 100 children in the UK
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Riding the South Downs Way

The idea of riding the South Downs Way started in the spring of 2010.   It came about through an idle curiosity of a squiggly line running from Eastbourne to Winchester in an old 2004 AA road atlas. A quick search on Google revealed it as a 100 mile off road bi-way suitable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. I mentioned it to my friend Steve Newholm and suggested we ride it together over a two day period in the summer - how hard can 100 miles be?  I ride that to and from work during the week and a further 50 miles at the weekend.  Yes it’s all off road but hey, what's the difference between that and road cycling?  I was about to find out!

Planning the ride gave me the wonderful excuse I needed to buy a mountain bike! (The bike I have is a road bike).  It also introduced a new member to the team, a chap called Stephen Clarke.  The initial planning was very easy - buy a map of the South Downs Way and decide on a date to start. After several discussions we settled for the last Friday and Saturday in August and with daylight hours beginning to draw in, we wisely decided to book a place at a camping barn roughly half way round.

Supporting The Daisy Garland. It was quite late in the day when the idea was put forward to me that the ride would be a great opportunity to raise some money for a charity. I had never raised money in this way before and with only two and a half weeks to go before the off, it didn't leave much time to get this organised. The first problem was which charity to choose? An answer was soon put forward by my sister in law Laura, who has lived with epilepsy from her early teens and she chose The Daisy Garland charity.  Working alongside The Daisy Garland has been fantastic. Having had no experience with raising money for a charity before I was a little nervous of approaching The Daisy Garland for fear of doing it wrong.  But there was no need to worry because in the very capable hands of Sara Garland, I was encouraged to set up a ‘Just Giving’ page, which was very simple to do and I shamelessly plugged this on Facebook day in, day out!   To increase sponsorship, I placed a collection bucket at work, into which my very generous customers donated their loose change and more.  The pennies soon turned into ££’s and before we knew it we had collected the great sum of £240. Thank you kind customers!

The day of the ride dawned early and we set off from Eastbourne at 9am.  Sadly Steve Newholm had pulled out of the ride on fitness grounds, leaving myself and Stephen to take on the challenge.  We had been watching the weather forecast all week and knew it might be a little wet - and wet it was with horizontal rain and wind!  My navigating got us slightly lost after 200 meters and the puncture fairies got Stephen’s back tyre after only two miles. Not a good start!   The weather was only part of the problem.  Whilst we had practised on the South Downs, we were at the Winchester end where the Downs paths are a lot smoother and the hills less abrupt than that at the Eastbourne end - neither of us is unfit but my goodness we were in for a shock!. After about 30 miles the rain stopped and the wind subsided but the terrain continued to hold us back. We had banked on an average speed of 6-7 miles an hour, but reality saw us doing 3-4 and by 4pm it was obvious that we were way behind schedule. We had no choice but to get to our planned destination as our sleeping bags and food were waiting there for us.  So with heavy hearts we switched to the roads for a few miles to make up time. Thank goodness we did as we bypassed a particularly tall rise in the Downs so got ourselves back on track and re-joined the trail as we plugged away at it for the rest of the day. We arrived at the Gumber Bothy camping barn (highly recommended) just after sunset. It had been a really tough day both mentally and physically and our spirits were a little low, made worse by the barn’s only other occupant - Charlie, who had run 50 miles to our 60 and looked in far better shape!

Day two saw an early start and a total change in the weather - blue skies and a cool breeze, - it was just what the doctor ordered.  Where I felt totally recharged, Stephen was feeling the strain of the previous day and I had my concerns about how far he would make it, but he gritted his teeth and ploughed on. Day two was far easier than day one. There were less miles to do and the terrain was far more favourable. I really enjoyed the Saturday ride. We both agreed to push the bikes up the steepest hills to save energy and the Flats and Downs were far easier to ride than the previous day, under such a beautiful blue sky. Our spirits rose more still as we entered familiar territory that we had ridden on our practice days, but Stephen was starting to suffer in the legs as we drew closer to Queen Elizabeth Country Park, so we had to pull in when we arrived there. He had ridden 28 miles further than I had hoped when we set off that morning and I know he gave his everything to get this far, but I felt sad to be continuing on alone as I know Stephen wanted to finish, after all the miles we had put in together. (We are planning to do the last leg together soon).

I continued on up Butser Hill alone and out towards Winchester and thankfully it did not take long to shed the loneliness as there are far more users of the South Downs Way on this stretch and of course the end was in sight.   About two miles outside of Winchester I finally caught up with Charlie the mad runner who had left the camping barn at 4.30am that morning to continue his run!  I am absolutely amazed that anyone can run 100 miles let alone nearly beat someone on a bike! Winchester was a sight to behold and as I peddled up to Winchester Cathedral I felt so proud to have done it but a little sad that I was crossing the ‘finishing line’ alone. My sadness soon abated when I met Charlie in the pub around the corner and we enjoyed a well deserved pint together whilst waiting for Caroline to pick me up and whisk me off to the West Country for a week of rest and relaxation.

My thanks go to Stephen for coming with me and to Andy and Nadine for the lift down to Eastbourne and of course to Caroline for letting me buy a new bike!

The ride was a great experience and to date has raised almost £1,000 for The Daisy Garland charity - helping them continue their vital work supporting children with drug resistant epilepsy.

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