Starting on Friday 6 November, BBC One’s The One Show Rickshaw Challenge is back, longer and tougher than ever before.
One of the brave riders who will be cycling the 470-mile journey from Land’s End in Cornwall to Elstree in London in a bid to raise money for BBC Children in Need is 16 year old George from Richmond upon Thames.
George and his dad Mark have been training at YMCA Hawker in north Kingston since this summer to get ready for the challenge.
“Peter, who did the induction with us when we first started working out here, has been very encouraging,” Mark says.
“He is really nice and also reminds me when I forget things,” George adds.
The staff at YMCA Hawker are inspired and impressed with George’s dedication.
“We’re all really impressed with George’s hard work”, says Sue Davies in the YMCA Hawker Health & Wellbeing team.
“He comes to train almost every day and we have all noticed the progress and how motivated he is. We hope the challenge goes well and will be cheering for him the whole way!”
Wrote his own musical
George has Downs Syndrome, and loves music and performance arts. He has even written his own musical, which is a prequel to the popular story about Matilda. “I wrote the script, the music, the synopsis and directed it”, George explains.
Now, his musical is even hitting the big screen, in a documentary about George and how his musical came to life, which is being produced by his older brother.
For almost four years, George has regularly attended Pro Corda, a music and educational charity based at Leiston Abbey in Suffolk which receives funding from Children in Need. Here, he plays violin and attends the Create Together course, which uses music theatre to benefit personal and social progression.
“It’s a really nice place to be,” George says. “We put on musicals, and we improvise. The last performance we did was Mary Poppins”. Here, George played the chimney sweep Bert.
One of the reasons George likes going to Pro Corda so much, is because his teacher is so brilliant.
“He just makes everything fun,” George explains.
Giving back to Children in Need
It was fellow students at Pro Corda who put George’s name forward for The One Show Rickshaw Challenge, which he will be doing alongside a team of five young people aged between 16 and 18, who all in one way or another have been supported by a Children in Need funded scheme.
To The One Show, George said: “I’m really looking forward to the Rickshaw Challenge, but know it will be difficult so I’ll need to keep training before we set off. Thanks to the BBC’s Children in Need, I’ve been able to go to Pro Corda which I love. By doing this, I’m hoping to raise more money, and give something back. I’m hoping that everyone at home will support the team this year. It’ll be a tough journey, but worth it to know we’re helping change lives”.
Grin and get on with it
Although George is still really excited about taking part in the challenge, it has also started to sink in just how far it is to be cycling 470 miles…the six team members will all be cycling parts of each leg of the journey, and George is hoping that he will be doing around 15-16 miles a day.
To prepare, George and dad Mark did lots of cycling this summer in Richmond Park, and now, in the run up to the challenge, they are hitting the gym hard, almost every day.
“I just have to grin and get on with it”, George says when asked about how he is going to stay motivated throughout.
There are, however, a couple things to motivate him to keep going. Firstly, when finishing the challenge, a big plate of fish and chips – one of George’s favourite foods – will be on the menu, followed by one of George’s favourite musicals watched by George together with his mum and dad.
In September, George had his first go on the rickshaw. “I thought it was really hard,” he says.
But with lots of training, and the support of his mum and brother who will be coming with him on the trip, he is now feeling as ready as he can be.
Watch them on TV
Cycling, however, isn’t the only challenge George is facing. A film crew will be following the challenge every step of the way, and the rickshaw even has a camera attached to it, capturing every gruelling moment of the trip.
The team already visited The One Show studios some weeks ago. “We all really enjoyed it”, George says.
And if everything goes according to plan, the team will be in London by Friday 13 November, just in time to appear on the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show.
Support George and The One Show Rickshaw Challenge Team
You can follow George from Richmond and his five team mates undertaking the Rickshaw Challenge on The One Show every weekday until 13 November at 7pm, or visit the website.
Since 2011, the Rickshaw Challenge has raised over £7.9 million for BBC Children in Need, with each and every penny going to projects supporting disadvantaged children and young people right here in the UK.
To support the challenge, you can donate either £5 or £10 by text. To donate £5 text the word TEAM to 70705 or to donate £10 text TEAM to 70710. Click here for more information on how you can get involved.