Novice cyclists from South Tyneside set off on coast-to-coast challenge in support of children suffering brain tumours - and get a little help from Joe McElderry

Novice cyclists from South Tyneside will be pedalling 140 miles in a coast-to-coast challenge to raise money to support children fighting brain tumours.
Alex and Sarah are in the saddle to help othersAlex and Sarah are in the saddle to help others
Alex and Sarah are in the saddle to help others

Alex Hagan, 27, and his friends Sarah Pagan, 28, and Jake Kennedy, 24, are cycling from Whitehaven, Cumbria, to Tynemouth, North Tyneside, this week.

They have chosen to raise money for Tom’s Trust, a charity which funds clinical psychology support for children with brain tumours and their families across the North East and East of England.

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Alex is a higher assistant psychologist at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, and his work with families for two days of the week is funded by Tom’s Trust.

Alex HaganAlex Hagan
Alex Hagan

He said the pandemic has had an extensive effect on the emotional wellbeing of children with brain tumours, and he hopes that through his fundraising he can help to support a child and their family for a whole year by raising £1,000. The group has already raised £700.

“A large part of my job is supporting families and helping children with their neurocognitive development following treatment. I frequently see many different members of the family needing help and support, including parents and siblings but also extended family such as grandparents,” he said.

“One part of the work which can’t be understated is the support we give to siblings of children with brain tumours.

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"The impact a brain tumour has on a family exceeds just the child themselves, and this is something Tom’s Trust truly appreciates.”

Joe McElderry is supporting the causeJoe McElderry is supporting the cause
Joe McElderry is supporting the cause

Tom said his team also liaised with schools and teachers for a number of years after a child has finished treatment to ensure that children are reintegrated back into school successfully.

"Many children can find it extremely difficult to transition back into the classroom following months of treatment, and this is where we can offer tailored support,” he said.

Tom said he was inspired to take on the challenge in part due to taking up cycling during the pandemic.

“I’m a complete novice at cycling and only got on a bike out of sheer boredom during lockdown,” he said.

"My friend Sarah is an absolute expert, whereas Jake and I will have to take her lead. We’ve done very little training, so this will no doubt be a huge challenge for us.”

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“I’m so glad to have already exceeded our initial fundraising target, but we’d really love to get a full £1,000 to fund a psychologist’s support for a child and their whole family for a year.”

Showing support to his friend Alex is South Shields' own Joe McElderry. The X Factor winner did a ‘T for Tom’ sign to encourage others to donate to his friend’s fundraising page.

The signature T shape made with both arms has been shared by a number of celebrities over the years including Tom Hiddleston, Simon Cowell and Holly Willoughby.

Debs Mitchell, Co-founder of Tom’s Trust, said: “We are so grateful to Alex, first of all for his incredible work with the families we support and now for raising money to continue funding this vital work.

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“There are so many children in the north of England who need our help, and we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful fundraisers. We’d also like to thank Joe McElderry for showing his support.”

Sarah, who works as a caseworker, Jake, who is a journalist, and Alex, will be set off on June 30 and will finish on Friday, July 2.

They will stay in B&Bs along the way during the challenge in Penrith, Cumbria, and Eastgate, County Durham.

To donate to their fundraising challenge, go to

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