A Barley grandfather is taking on a 100-mile charity bike ride in memory of his granddaughter, who was stillborn.

Peter McPartland, 70, will take part in the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 on Sunday, May 26, following the loss of baby Eloise.

Eloise was stillborn in July last year, two weeks before her due date. Tests later found she had died because of a blood clot in the umbilical cord.

Royston Crow: Peter McPartland holding his granddaughter Eloise's handPeter McPartland holding his granddaughter Eloise's hand (Image: The McPartland family)

Peter, who is investment director at Martlet Capital in Cambridge, said: "When my son Charlie and his fiancée Jess told us they were expecting their second baby, we were all thrilled. 

"Their older daughter, Izzy, was excited about becoming a big sister, and my wife Yvonne and I were looking forward to welcoming our fourth grandchild. 

"Then everything changed suddenly on July 18, 2023. It’s a date that’s seared into my memory. 

"Yvonne and I had been out running and Charlie couldn’t get hold of us at first to tell us what had happened. 

"Eventually our daughter Clare managed to reach us on the phone. She just said: 'The baby’s died'. 

"It was such a shock. The rest of the day was a blur."

Peter said that in the months following Eloise's death, it felt like the family was "enveloped in a dense fog".

He added that they were given a "focus for the future" in September, when Charlie and Jess announced their engagement.

The couple is now expecting another baby, and Jess is under the care of the Rainbow Clinic at the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge, which offers specialists services for parents who have previously experienced stillbirth.

Pregnancy research and baby loss charity Tommy's funded the first Rainbow Clinic in Manchester in 2013, and they have since been rolled out to 26 sites across the UK.

Tommy's is overseeing a long-term study into the impact of Rainbow Clinics, and Jess has volunteered to take part in that research.

Peter and his family discovered Tommy's and its work soon after Eloise died.

He said: "I wanted to take on a physical challenge in memory of Eloise, and late last year signed up for the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 bike ride. 

"As Tommy’s undertakes vital research into the causes of baby loss, I decided to use this challenge to raise money for them."

You can donate and help Peter reach his £10,000 target at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/peter-mcpartland1.

Peter's daughter Clare, who lives in Saffron Walden, organised a 'Wave of Light' in the town in October, to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week.

The event raised money for the baby loss charity Petals, which also supported Charlie and Jess after the loss of their daughter.

Clare said that losing her niece exposed her family to the "raw heartache of baby loss", adding "Petals have been hugely helpful to my brother and sister-in-law".

Since Eloise's death, Peter has discovered how many others have been through their own experience of baby loss.

He said: "I’m taking on this endeavour to raise awareness of this important issue, and to honour the memory of my beautiful granddaughter Eloise. 

"As a family, we have accepted the loss of Eloise, and have stopped asking ‘why?’. 

"Her ashes are buried in a local woodland burial ground. We pay regular visits to the grave and will continue to do so.  

"We’ll commemorate her birthday, and we won’t forget her.  She remains our fourth grandchild."