Glasgow Children’s Hospital doctor completes 800km climate cycle from London ahead of COP26

A dedicated Glasgow doctor has cycled over 800km, from London to Glasgow, to raise awareness around the impact of air pollution on health, ahead of COP26.

Dr Ewan Wallace, Consultant in Paediatric Anaesthesia and Chronic Pain at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Royal Hospital for Children, took part in the massive Ride for their Lives trek, alongside fellow health care professionals.

The challenge started at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on Sunday, October 24, with Ewan clocking his final kilometres at Glasgow’s Gartnavel General Hospital yesterday (October 31).

Ewan, 47, was one of 39 participants to complete the gruelling 800km cycle, while others completed various stages in cities such as Bristol, Sheffield and Newcastle.

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Father of two, Ewan, from Busby, said: “This has been one of the best experiences of my life, it was great to get such an important message out there, while meeting so many people and members of the public along the way.

“We have a unique opportunity to use the platform of COP26 to highlight the impact that air pollution has on our health and the health of our children. This is our chance to be a voice for younger generations and our patients.

“I’ve always been an advocate for becoming greener and more sustainable, so this was a natural fit. I set up the Green Theatre Project at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, which looks at how we can reduce the environmental impact of theatres, by trying to cut down on waste and tackle reducing the use of anaesthetic gases that have high levels of greenhouse gas effects.”

On arrival, the cyclists were greeted at the hospital by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Chairman, Professor John Brown CBE.

He said: “I want to congratulate the Ride for their Lives participants for what has been a monumental effort to raise awareness of a hugely important issue. The riders are very special people who work in children’s healthcare and have dedicated their working lives to the preservation of children’s life. But they share the same concerns and challenges we all face living in the 21 st century. Some of them have even confessed to not being particularly fit before embarking on this 800km bike ride, although they must be now.

“Air pollution is the most universal of the deadly health impacts of climate change. Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still developing. Toxic particles can even cross the placenta, causing prematurity, and health problems over the baby’s entire life course.

“These dedicated healthcare professionals are ensuring the voices of their patients and younger generations is heard and I thank them for that.”

During COP26, Gartnavel General Hospital will host a project by artist Michael Pinsky which safely mimics the air quality, temperature and smell of London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula in Norway.

The pollution pods will remain on site during COP26, until Friday November 12 and open to the public on Tuesday November 2.

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