WHEN Mark Beard learned of the work done by Helen and Douglas Hospice to help a family friend he decided to get on his bike.

And on Sunday, April 27, the 47-year-old completed the Cambridge 100 cycle ride and raised more than £2,000 in memory of Thomas Laurie.

Nine-year-old Thomas had rare genetic premature aging condition Cockayne Syndrome and sadly died in February at the Oxford-based hospice.

His devastated family – dad Richard, mum Catherine, 42, and his sister Ellie, 12 – have pledged to raise money to create a lasting legacy in his name.

Friend Mr Beard, of The Walled Garden, Bicester, has now started the ball rolling.

Mr Beard had been told by doctors he had to give up most forms of sport after treatment for a childhood kidney condition left him with osteoarthritis and weak bones. So, three-and-a-half years ago he took up cycling in an attempt to keep fit.

When he heard about the care the Laurie family received from the hospice, he decided to take on a challenge.

Mr Beard, head of IT services at Easyjet, said: “Tom was a lovely little boy from a fantastic family who loved him dearly and made the most of his very short life.

“I chose Helen and Douglas House after he heard about the excellent support and care they provided both to Tom and the Laurie family.”

Mr Laurie said: “It is an amazing achievement to raise so much money for Helen and Douglas House, which has provided us with such invaluable support.”

Cockayne Syndrome causes premature aging and is a degenerative condition, which prevents normal growth and affects the nervous system, meaning that Thomas’ life expectancy was severely shortened.