THE ARCTIC RIDER STORY

"Gordon Stuart (AKA The Arctic Rider) is on a mission to ride his motorbike across the Arctic Circle in every country possible, while raising money and awareness for causes close to his heart."

“It started in 2011 as a charity ride to the Arctic Circle that didn’t really go to plan, and has become a near obsession with the Arctic, an obsession with riding a motorbike, and an obsession helping organisations who help others” - Traverse Magazine, November 2017.

To date, Gordon has raised over £13,000 for charities, ridden over 14,000 miles as part of the challenges.

Gordon is an Ambassador UK-brain injury charity Cerebra and global youth leader forum One Young World, and fundraiser for special care babies charity Tiny Lives. He is keen motorcyclist, writer, and film maker.

Islay's Story and Tiny Lives - Part 1

Hi everyone,

Thanks for checking in, reading my blog, and supporting my Iron Butt challenge.

As many of you may know (or guess from my pseudonym) I rode my bike to the Arctic in 2014 to raise money for brain injury charity Cerebra, who have helped my little brother and my family for many years. I knew from quite early on I wanted to help give something back to Cerebra but it just took me a little while to figure out how to do it.

This time around, it didn't take long after our family got support from Tiny Lives, when my daughter Islay was born prematurely, that I knew I was going to be jumping on my bike to 'give something  back' again.

Now not many outside my family and close circle of friends really know Islay's story but I wanted to share just a glimpse of it to give you readers an insight into just why The Tiny Lives Trust means so much to us and why I'm determined to raise some money so they can continue to help other families.

My buddy Ant, part of my 'Welcome Home Party' - June 2014
Rewind to June 2014 and I'd just got back from the Arctic and things seemed pretty good. I'd completed the trip of a lifetime, raised a shed load of cash for charity, and I had the full summer to spend with my wife Kirsty before our first baby was due to be born in the middle of September. I wasn't to know that one morning at the start of August would be the start of my daughter Islay's amazing journey.

Kirsty and I pre-baby
It was Sunday the 3rd of August 2014, over a month and a half until Islay's due date so I can categorically say both Kirsty and I weren't prepared for the arrival of a baby. I woke to Kirsty seeming a bit concerned. As a precaution we went to the hospital to get Kirsty checked over and spent the full day with Kirsty wired up to different monitors and speaking to different doctors. They'd decided to keep her in overnight to keep and eye on her but the message I got was that Islay wasn't arriving just yet.

I wasn't allowed to stay at the hospital with Kirsty so the next morning I headed up in my work suit to see how things were going, expecting to spend some time in the office that day. Not long after I arrived Kirsty was getting wheeled into the delivery room... the baby was coming. The whole day was a blur. Kirsty was amazing, so much so she even let me eat the toast the midwife had brought her. As Islay was 6 weeks early and on the way, the doctors briefed up that when she was born there might be some issues and to try to not get too concerned if they had to whisk her off as soon as she was born. This was such a scary thought but I knew I had to put on a brave face for Kirsty, and have faith in the doctors. When Islay was born she let out a big cry and I was even able to cut the chord... everything seemed ok. Islay had to be taken away to get some antibiotics but apart from that it had gone to plan.

2 hours old Islay and I
I wasn't able to stay with the girls at the hospital so again I trooped home for the night. The next 24 hours Islay stayed on the ward with Kirsty and I was able to visiting during the day, get a little cuddle and come to terms with being a dad. Islay was having a some issues keeping her first feeds down but the midwives and the doctors were keeping an eye and said to use she might just be a sickly baby... I didn't know any different and was caught up in a world wind of emotions. Again that night I went home trying to get the house sorted for our new arrival and buy some tiny clothes for our tiny early baby. It was from then Islay's story turned into a nightmare.

That night around 10pm I got a phone call from Kirsty. Islay still wasn't keeping her milk down and the doctors were becoming increasingly concerned, they rushed her into the special care baby unit (SCBU) to work out what was wrong... I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible and meet them at SCBU. I immediately jumped on the bike and bombed up the hospital to be with Kirsty and Islay.

One of the scariest memories of Islay's story for me was the first time I was outside the door of SCBU. I remember going on a tour of the maternity unit only a week or so earlier with Kirsty. We were taken past a ward which I now know to be SCBU. I have such a clear memory of the midwife giving the tour and saying as we passed SCBU "This is ward 35, the Special Care Baby Unit, Its where all the sickest and critically ill babies go, but don't worry your baby won't end up here"... but my baby had and I was terrified of what could happen.

With tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat, I stood at the door of SCBU and rang the buzzer. From there for me the SCBU journey with Islay and Kirsty began.

Islay's Story and Tiny Lives - Part 2

**You can donate to my Iron Butt ride for Tiny Lives on my Giving Page**

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