By Sam Kail-Dyke – Wessex Learning Trust
Today (Monday 1st November 2021), Kings of Wessex student Thomas Walsh has taken part in the annual ‘Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge’, led by presenter Matt Baker, which saw him riding more than 30 miles to raise money for Children in Need. Tom is one of five riders selected from across the country to take part in the challenge which celebrates the incredible achievements of the contenders as they travel through their hometowns and visit places that hold particular significance for them.
Tom, 16, had his
world turned upside-down in September 2018 when his parents were involved in a
devastating car accident on the M5. Although his mum, Ceri, was able to recover
from her injuries; tragically his dad, Rod, lost his life in the accident.
Needless to say, the impact of this on Tom’s life has been huge with the
challenge of processing all the feelings and emotions involved taking a toll on
him throughout the intervening years. Luckily, Tom was able to receive support from
the local Cheddar counselling service, ‘The Space’, who have provided weekly
one-to-one counselling for Tom ever since the accident.
Tom’s ride started at 8:00am at the SS Great Britain and saw him ride across Bristol and through Somerset; stopping at Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Salt and Malt at Chew Valley Lake, and the Riverside in Cheddar. He finished his ride at Thatcher’s Cider in Sandford towards the end of the afternoon, tired, but elated at his incredible achievement. Along the way crowds gathered to cheer Tom on his way, with friends, family, teachers, and staff from The Space all particularly proud to see him completing such an epic challenge for such a great cause.
Now in its eleventh
year, the ‘Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge’ has raised over £41 million for
Children in Need and continues to support charities and organisations – like
the Space – who provide invaluable services for children facing difficulties.
Talking about his experience, Tom said: “I can’t thank The Space enough for being there for me at such a hard and devastating time in mine and my family’s life. I’m looking forward to channelling my energy into executing The Rickshaw Challenge with Matt and the team”, with Doreen Smith, Operations Director at The Space adding: “The Space is delighted that Tom was chosen to take part in the challenge and viewers will see what a truly inspirational young man he is. Tom was supported by our counselling service as part of his journey to recover from a catastrophic event. We will most certainly be there cheering him on”.
Chief Executive of the Trust, Gavin Ball, commented on Tom’s challenge: “I am so proud to see Tom taking on such an incredible challenge! He is an outstanding young person whose resilience and determinisation is admirable. It’s great to see him raising money for Children in Need who do some incredible work supporting organisations like The Space, who’s services are invaluable for so many young people in the area”.
A one-off special following the rides and stories of all five of this year’s rickshaw riders will be aired on BBC One on Wednesday 10th November 2021, at 19:30. To donate, or find out more about the challenge, please visit: https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/shows/the-rickshaw-challenge-2019/