WHEN Yeadon grandad Karl Birch crossed the Ride London finishing line there was only one person on his mind - his granddaughter Florence.

Karl, who took part in the 100 mile ride with his sister Angela Cooper, knew that however tough the event had been he would do it all again for the tiny baby who had died of meningitis just over a year earlier at the age of seven weeks.

Now he is urging others to get involved and help raise money to fight the disease that killed his baby granddaughter, who was born on August 30, 2018.

“We were the proudest grandparents alive and fell in love with her instantly,” Karl said. “Life couldn’t get any better for us, a new chapter in our lives”.

But their happiness was shattered when, on October 20, their daughter Abbigayle told them that Florence didn’t seem herself – she was very sleepy and not interested in feeding. The baby was taken to hospital where she died of meningitis later that night.

“After we lost Florence to this terrible illness we went round our family explaining what had happened and reliving the pain and sadness,” said Karl. “As we visited my sister and got talking she told me that she had been in touch with Meningitis Now and decided to sign up for the Prudential Ride London 100.

Karl signed up too and the siblings both took part in August last year.

“We crossed the line hand in hand as we always said we would then the emotion of the whole experience hit us. In floods of tears we had done it for Florence,” Karl said.

“To this day I still have a lump in my throat when I stop and think about Florence. I also still feel very proud of the achievement of completing Ride London and of the money we raised for charity to try and help others.

“I would do it all again and I would advise anyone that has been affected by anything like this to go for it.”

Meningitis Now’s Events Fundraising Manager Kirsty Owen-Hayward said she welcomed anyone who wanted to fundraise for the charity.

“Ride London is a brilliant way to support us if you are really looking for a good challenge,” she said.

“But we have plenty of other options if cycling’s not for you – like the London 10k or our Three Peaks Challenge. For anyone who prefers to organise their own events we’ve got lots of ideas on our website to get you started.”

To find up more visit the fundraising pages of the Meningitis Now website