HEALTH MATTERS: Doctor is green machine

On yer bike – Dr Ewan Wallace, Consultant in Paediatric Anaesthesia and Chronic Pain.

By Lucy Ashton

A dedicated doctor is set to cycle over 800km 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, will join fellow health care professionals for the Ride for their Lives challenge, which begins at Greater Ormond Street Hospital in London on Sunday 24th October.

Cyclists will arrive at Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow, the host city for COP26, on Sunday 31st October. While some participants are completing stages of the challenge, which will stop at Bristol, Sheffield and Newcastle, Ewan is completing the entire ride.

Ewan said: “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.”

“I decided to take part as 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.”

Ewan, 47, has been in training for a while, cycling to work each day and doing as many miles as possible over the weekend. Ride for their Lives will be the biggest cycle the father of two has taken on, but he revealed it’s not just the distance that will be a challenge.

He said: “Cycling was never my preferred method of exercise, I was always more into running. But the more I cycle the more I enjoy it. Cycling to work changes your whole routine, so it does take a bit of getting used to. But now I would have to say I much prefer cycling to work than sitting in the car, albeit I do have an electric car.

“I am hopefully getting used to the cycling side of it, but the other challenge for me is making sure I have sustainable snacks with me, I am looking into the most effective way of doing that as I will be cycling up to 120km a day at points.”

On arrival the cyclists will be able to experience the installation of an art project by artist Michael Pinsky which safely mimic 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 12th November.

Ewan said: “It’s great to have the pollution pods on site to highlight the impact air pollution has on health. Air pollution particles can get into our bodies and with pregnant women can increase the risk of premature births, and if you’re premature you can be more prone to many things including chronic lung issues.”

If you would like to join Ride for their Lives, you can join people from around the world and clock your kilometres virtually by joining the Strava club.

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