Members of a Lancashire Facebook group to do a 16-mile walk to raise funds for a girl from Irlam

New dad Jake Myers, 25 (pic 2) and several other men from the ‘TeamDad’ Lancashire Facebook group, are taking on a Freya’s Festive March on December 19 to raise funds for Freya Bailey, the daughter of fellow member Darren, 48 from Irlam in Salford.

Around a dozen men, most of whom have never met, will walk from Blackpool Football Stadium to Preston Northend Football stadium to raise money for specialised therapy for ten-year-old Freya.

Freya was born with two holes in her heart and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Her physiotherapy, which is not available on the NHS, costs around £1,000 per month. She will soon have to undergo another large operation on her hips to prevent hip dysplasia – this will be her fifth major surgery.

Jake, an energy broker, whose son Alfie is nearly four months old said: “I did a sponsored walk last year for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund when one of the members of our pool team died of the disease and we raised around £2,000.”

“I wanted to do something similar this year and was looking for a suitable cause. I joined TeamDad Lancashire on Facebook when Alfie was born and it’s been an amazing support group – we talk about everything there. I asked if anyone had any ideas and Darren suggested we fund raise for Freya.

“He told me a bit more about her and really, how could I say no? The other lads are right behind me and we’re really looking forward to it. We’re hoping that as well as raising money, we can have a laugh and forge some friendships.”

“Our target is to rise £1,500 – if we hit it before the event I’ll walk the last couple of miles in shorts only – whatever the weather!

“There are many support groups like this for mums, which is absolutely right of course, but you don’t hear about them so often for dads. But it’s been amazing – we really look out for each other and I’m really glad I found it.”

Darren himself has been running an annual Scooter Grannies event since 2016 to help raise funds for an operation which helped ease Freya’s pain – when he and his friends complete sponsored courses on scooters dressed as grannies. He and some of the Scooter Grannies will be joining Jake on Freya’s Festive March.

Darren and his supporters now have to continue to raise money for ongoing physio which helps to keep Freya mobile and means she can continue to ride her adapted bike and go swimming.

He said: “Freya will need physiotherapy indefinitely so I have to continue to think of innovative ways to raise funds for her and keep people’s interest.

“I am humbled and grateful to Jake for organising this event on behalf of Freya. Being in fulltime employment myself, caring for Freya and being constantly on the go fundraising for her certainly takes its toll.

“It was a great relief and an overwhelming feeling that a group of strangers/potential friends would volunteer their time for Freya and me.

“The TeamDad Facebook page is a great forum – I did the Preston Guild cycle route with some of the dads back in June and it was a great day out.”

Gill Gibb, CEO of Tree of Hope said: “We’re delighted to be helping with Freya’s fundraising and wish this very supportive group of dads all the best with it.”

To donate to the sponsored walk, visit
https://www.treeofhope.org.uk/freyaslittlelegs/