The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge is back, with a new team of riders and route across Britain’s East Coast revealed yesterday on the show. This year’s team includes 18-year-old Andy from Chesterfield, who has been selected for the challenge following his involvement with The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a charity supported by BBC Children in Need funding.
Now in its sixth year, this year’s Rickshaw team will cover a 470-mile journey from the Scottish Border town of Jedburgh to central London, all to raise money for BBC Children in Need. Along the way, BBC’s The One Show presenter Matt Baker will be on the road cycling alongside the team offering support and advice, whilst Alex Jones will be following their every move, cheering them on, live from studio.
Embarking on Friday 11th November the young riders will work their way down Britain’s East Coast in a bid to cross the finish line on Friday 18th November, in time for the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show.
At age 13 Andy was diagnosed with an aggressive blood cancer, acute myeloid leukaemia. The typically sporty teen fell ill just short of starting year nine, when a series of painful tests revealed the devastating news. After four rounds of chemotherapy that left him nauseous and desperately ill, Andy underwent a bone marrow transplant to reduce the chances of cancer returning. The treatments drained him both physically and mentally, and often forced him to spend weeks in isolation due to his compromised immune system. As a result his confidence suffered, but the The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust stepped in and helped change that.
The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust brings together young people who are in recovery from cancer and gives them the opportunity to take part in a residential sailing trip to reduce their isolation and build a support network. The charity is a lifeline, giving young people who have been forced to take time out of school, work, or college to undergo treatment, an opportunity to forget about their condition and focus on something positive with others who share their experiences. Recently the group secured new funding from BBC Children in Need and subsequently pledged to run activities that improve well-being and self-esteem.
Andy’s first sailing trip came at a time when his self-belief was low from having cancer. Being around other youngsters his age who were also in recovery from illness helped him open up about his experiences. What’s more, the challenge of working on the boat allowed him to feel physically capable again.
Speaking of his involvement Andy said: “I have been in remission for almost four years now and I know I’m here today thanks to the efforts of so many people. It’s been a tough journey, and there were times when I felt afraid and alone, but I’ve never felt stronger or more ready to give back. That’s why I’m taking on the Rickshaw Challenge – I want other young people who are ill or in recovery to know that they are not alone.”
To date the Challenge has raised more than £12million and in keeping with tradition, the young riders will not only test their pedal power, but also their mettle, as they deliver speeches to a live audience explaining their motivations for taking on the challenge this year. The team hopes their efforts will not only help them raise money, but awareness of the real difference being made to disadvantaged children and young people’s lives across the UK thanks to BBC Children in Need.
This year the rickshaw will be pedalled by five other young riders, all of whom have been supported by BBC Children in Need funded projects, and they are:
Ebony (18) from Bournemouth. Aged three, Ebony was diagnosed with Ataxia Telangiectasia (AT), a rare neurological condition that affects her movement and speech, and has left her vulnerable to respiratory infections. The condition is degenerative and there is no cure. Although she doesn’t let AT get in the way of living life to the fullest, the uncertainty of her future can sometimes leave her feeling isolated. BBC Children in Need has funded the AT Society to help change that, giving Ebony and her family the chance to meet others who share their experiences, whilst learning more about the condition.
Phoebe (18) from Derbyshire. In August 2013, Phoebe’s dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. Her family’s life was drastically changed, as they struggled to cope with their loss and adjust to life without dad. Since the accident, Phoebe and her family have received bereavement support from a BBC Children in Need funded counsellor at Treetops Hospice Trust and are slowly coming to terms with their grief.
Salar (18) from the West Midlands. Salar and his family lived a happy life in Northern Syria. However, when conflict broke out, the family felt forced to flee, leaving their home behind. Since arriving in the UK, Entraide – a project supporting refugees in the West Midlands – has been a lifeline to Salar and his family. With support from BBC Children in Need, the project has helped Salar rebuild his confidence, make new friends and integrate into UK life. He hopes to study medicine and help others in need.
Olivia (17) from Edinburgh. Olivia is profoundly deaf, but she received a cochlear implant at the age of two, and is an active part of both the hearing and deaf communities. Throughout her life, she’s felt that people have either made assumptions about her intelligence because of her deafness, or not recognised that she sometimes has additional needs. Attending BBC Children in Need funded Deaf Action has broadened her horizons and she now enjoys many of the same opportunities as her hearing peers. Today, she helps to mentor deaf youngsters coping with issues of bullying and exclusion.
Ross (18) from Sunderland. Mixed aggressive epilepsy can causes Ross to collapse multiple times a day. As a result, he wears a helmet to protect his head from injury. The condition limits his freedom, as he is under constant supervision, but at Bluewatch Youth Centre Ross can be himself without fear. The group gave him the courage to get out and do the things he loves; that includes cycling, and he can’t wait to show off his skills on this year’s Rickshaw Challenge. When he is cycling, his increased concentration makes it unlikely that he will have a seizure, making it safe for him to ride the rickshaw. Thanks to fundraisers across the UK, BBC Children in Need has been able to support Bluewatch since 2006.
Speaking of this year’s challenge Matt Baker said: “Every year I am inspired by the incredible young people who take on the Rickshaw Challenge, and this year is no different. The six young riders in Team Rickshaw have faced major challenges in their lives already, but thanks to the Charity they have been able to overcome so much; and now they feel ready to give back. We hope that the public will rally behind them to help raise more money for BBC Children in Need. It really does make such a difference.”
Alex Jones added: “If I could give Team Rickshaw one piece of advice it would be to make the most of this remarkable experience. It won’t be an easy journey, but the difference that the fundraising makes to other young lives will be completely worth it. Last year we were amazed by the outpouring of support from people across the UK who gave to the challenge. We hope everyone will get behind these inspiring youngsters once more and push the team on to another successful year!”
Since 2011, The One Show Rickshaw Challenge has raised funds for BBC Children in Need, with each and every penny going on to support disadvantaged children and young people right here in the UK. The One Show viewers will be able to follow Team Rickshaw’s progress on the show each day, but the full route – including a real-time update of the rickshaw’s progress – is also available at http://pudsey.viewranger.com/.
To support the challenge, you can donate either £5 or £10 by text. To donate £5 text the word TEAM to 70405. To donate £10 text TEAM to 70410. Texts will cost your donation plus the standard network message charge. All of your donation will go to BBC Children in Need. You must be 16 or over and please ask for the bill payer’s permission. For more information and full terms and conditions go to bbc.co.uk/pudsey. The Text to donate Service will close on the 31st December 2016.