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Inverness couple's tribute North Coast 500 cycle in memory for daughter begins

By Erin Miller

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The group at Contin on their NC500 charity cycle in memory of River Sinclair-Hennessy.
The group at Contin on their NC500 charity cycle in memory of River Sinclair-Hennessy.

An Inverness couple have started their 500-mile bike ride across the north coast in a bid to raise £10,000 for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) in memory of their beloved daughter.

Sheena Sinclair, Dave Hennessy and three of their friends – Caroline Reid, Shaun Bremner and Greg Wilmot – set off on their NC500 charity cycle from Inverness Castle this morning.

They have since been spotted passing through Beauly then shortly after made it to Garve after a quick pit stop as Sheena's chain came off her bike.

Most recently the group has passed Contin, some 30 miles from their starting point in Inverness.

Derek Rattray Mackenzie gave an update on the group's Facebook page: “Managed to catch up with the guys at Contin earlier. Going strong when I passed them, and full of smiles when they stopped for a chat.”

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

The 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.

It will be a huge challenge for Sheena and Dave who are not experienced cyclists but the daring duo wanted to do something that will “push them outside their comfort zone” in tribute to their “brave little girl who endured so many challenges herself in her short life”.

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, who is a nurse, 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.”

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

Sadly, on August 9, 2022 – just two days after her fourth birthday – Rivy died unexpectedly following a planned surgery in Glasgow.

Sheena said: “We were absolutely devastated, heartbroken and certainly not ready to say goodbye. 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.”

Sheena and Dave with friends Caroline Reid, Shaun Bremner and GregWilmot
Sheena and Dave with friends Caroline Reid, Shaun Bremner and GregWilmot

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.”

Sheena and Dave have already raised £5885 towards their £10,000 target. Donations can be made on their gofundme page.

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