Richard Betteridge, a longtime Starlight supporter and avid cyclist, has seen firsthand the power that play can have on a seriously ill child’s experience in hospital.

In 2016, Richard’s youngest son, Matthew, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Though he has since made a full recovery, the time in and out of hospital had a huge impact on Matthew and his family.

Richard and Matthew were introduced to Starlight through our Distraction and Boost Boxes that helped take Matthew’s mind off treatment and reduce the stress of being in hospital. In 2018, Matthew was also granted a Starlight Wish. This trip created wonderful memories for Richard, Matthew, and their entire family and helped them forget the anxieties of ongoing hospital visits, chemotherapy and steroid treatment.

Spending time in hospital, away from extended family and friends can be an extremely stressful and frightening time for any child. Play provides an escape and an opportunity to have some fun.

Richard on the importance of play for seriously ill children

Following their wish, Richard made a promise to fundraise for Starlight so that other families could reap the benefits of our in-hospital resources and events.

In 2019, along with his eldest son, Oli, Richard completed the 100-mile Ride London sportive and raised an incredible £3,000 for Starlight.

Since 2019, Richard has continued peddling and has committed to continue fundraising for Starlight by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in June 2023. This ride will cover a distance of just over 1000 miles, nearly twice the height of Mt. Everest. He will cycle an average of 72 miles per day with no rest days in order to complete the ride in 14 days.

Having had a seriously ill child and seeing how Starlight helped him and other children on his ward, I want to do my part to help Starlight continue supporting other children and their families in similar situations.


On 11-12 June, we have a team of fantastic cyclists taking on their very own race. They will be competing in the London Nightrider and cycling the streets of London under the night sky all to raise funds so that we can continue protecting play both in and out of hospital.

We would love to share how our Starlight Champions are preparing for the London Nightrider. If you’re feeling inspired by Richard’s story like we are, please fill in the form below and someone from our team will be in touch!