THE iconic challenge which has seen Matt Baker travel thousands of miles alongside children and young people, who have been supported by BBC Children in Need, is back for its 10th year.
The 2020 Rickshaw Challenge for BBC Children in Need has been announced with Matt Baker once again joining a team of six young people to take on the challenge for the 10th year, as announced live during The One Show.
This year will see the annual challenge tell the powerful stories of its heroic young riders as it always has, but with a slightly different format due to Covid-19 restrictions. The team plan to ride the equivalent of Matt’s first solo Rickshaw ride in 2011, from Edinburgh to London – 332 miles in a straight line – but from within the iconic grounds of ‘Glorious’ Goodwood. The team plan to take on the mammoth challenge, starting on Friday 6th November and will have to cover a variety of terrains to reach their target each day, in time for a live broadcast into The One Show each evening at 7pm.
This year’s team is made up of six young people who have all been supported by BBC Children in Need funded projects:
Eoin, 14 from Belfast. As a boy Eoin loved spending time with his dad – they’d watch football matches together and enjoy hanging out. But in 2018 Eoin’s life changed dramatically. Eoin’s dad passed away following an illness and then, around the same time, Eoin and his family lost their home – leaving them homeless. Eoin, his mum and his sisters went to live with their grandma but there wasn’t much space which meant that he had to sleep on the floor. It was a really tough time for him and led to him bottling up his emotions. Eoin was introduced to North Belfast Play Forum, who receive funding from BBC Children in Need to deliver programmes of support and development for children who have been affected by a variety of issues. After attending some sessions at North Belfast Play Forum, Eoin gradually started to feel better and much happier in himself.
“I’m so pleased to be taking on the Rickshaw Challenge this year. Having experienced some really difficult times in my life, I was really thankful to find North Belfast Play Forum who really helped me feel better. I want to raise money that will go on to make a difference to help other young people who have faced challenges.”
Jim, 16 from Derbyshire. When Jim was five years old he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease which doctors could not find effective treatment for. The disease had a huge impact on Jim’s childhood and caused him great pain as he suffered from ulcers and sores across his body. Jim contracted sepsis which was a great worry for his family, but thankfully he pulled through. In 2018, doctors decided that Jim should be given a bone marrow transplant which was successful in eradicating the ulcers and sores. However, the illness had lasted ten years and had had a huge impact on his life; Jim had never attended a full year at school and he felt isolated and under-confident. During one of his hospital visits, Jim was introduced to Over the Wall, a charity that provides residential camps for children who have serious illnesses to give them new opportunities and build their confidence and self-esteem.
“I am really looking forward to taking on the Rickshaw Challenge. Doing something like this is something that I never thought would have been possible just a few years ago when I was really unwell. Attending camp with Over the Wall has really helped to build my confidence and I can’t wait to prove to myself I can do this challenge and share my story with others.”
Lauren, 16 from Aberdeen. Lauren was born with Turner Syndrome, Bone Dysplasia and Dwarfism which affect her emotionally and physically and can mean she is in a lot of pain. Since Lauren was born she has undergone 12 operations to enable her to walk more easily. Due to the operations, she has had, Lauren has missed a lot of school and has often felt isolated. Lauren loves singing and performing and was introduced to the charity Music 4 U when she was five years old. Music 4 U has enabled Lauren to express herself and develop her self-confidence and social skills. Music 4 U have been receiving funding from BBC Children in Need for several years and they deliver performing arts classes to children and young people of all abilities.
“I am excited to be joining Team Rickshaw this year and I’m determined to prove to myself that I can overcome the challenges I face. I want to share my story in the hope that I can help show the world that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.”
Lewis, 18 from Coventry. In July 2017, Lewis was diagnosed with bone cancer and after unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments, he was advised by doctors that he would need to have his leg amputated above the knee. Lewis was a promising footballer, with hopes for a football career ahead so this was devastating news for him. Lewis had his leg amputated in November 2017 and spent months in recovery, but he is now in remission and using a prosthetic leg. He’s playing football once again and riding a bike to train for the Rickshaw Challenge. Shortly after the operation, Lewis was introduced to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust who, with the help of a BBC Children in Need grant, run sailing trips for young people who have been treated for cancer. The sailing trips help to develop the young people’s confidence and self-esteem and give them the opportunity to meet new friends who have had similar experiences. This can be pivotal in a young person beginning to move forwards in their lives.
“I have always been a keen footballer, so having my leg amputated was devastating for me. Going on the sailing trip really helped me to re-build my confidence and self-esteem and I’m excited to take on my next challenge – The Rickshaw Challenge! – and prove to myself just what I can achieve!
Rosie, 19 from Ruislip. Rosie was born 11 weeks premature and spent some weeks in a Special Care Unit where she had a brain haemorrhage. At around 11 months old, during a routine check, the consultant noticed her legs cross in a particular way and diagnosed her with Cerebral Palsy. Whilst Rosie was growing up she had a few procedures to enable her to use her legs as much as possible, spending months in rehabilitation each time. Rosie is taking on the Rickshaw Challenge as she wants to change perceptions of peoples idea of disability and prove to herself she can do this challenge despite her disability. Rosie has been supported by The Pace Centre since she was three years old, and they’ve been funded by BBC Children in Need for several years. Pace improves the lives of children and young people with neurologically-linked motor disorders such as cerebral palsy, delivering bespoke therapy and support programmes.
“I’m looking forward to taking part in the Rickshaw Challenge. I want to share my story and show that even though I’m in a wheelchair I’m really no different from anyone else. I hope that I can help to raise money that will go on to support other young people like me.”
Sarah, 16 from Hillingdon. Sarah was born with hearing but an infection as a baby meant that she was left unable to hear. Sarah was fitted with a cochlear implant in her early years. This helped to improve her hearing but communicating and everyday life was still extremely difficult for her. Sarah felt isolated, lacked confidence and struggled to make friends. When Sarah was nine years old, she was assigned a hearing dog, Waffle by Hearing Dogs for the Deaf. This Children in Need supported charity trains dogs to help alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds that they would otherwise miss. Waffle has changed Sarah’s life and helped her to transform into a confident and independent young person.
“I found life very difficult before I met Waffle, I felt isolated and lonely but Waffle completely changed my life and I feel so lucky to have her. Taking on something like the Rickshaw Challenge is something I would have never dreamed of doing before I met Waffle, but now I know that I can do this. I hope that my story helps to inspire other young people like me.”
Matt Baker, who has been taking on this Challenge since 2011, said:
“In a year that has been tough for everyone, I am delighted that we can bring the Rickshaw Challenge back for the tenth year. In the spirit of doing what we can, we’re doing our best to make it as safe as possible for everybody involved and that includes our supporters that would usually come out to see us. So this year instead of coming out on the streets we’re asking people to support us from the comfort of their own homes by tuning in to The One Show each evening.”
As part of the tenth anniversary of the Rickshaw Challenge and its legacy, Matt Baker will revisit riders and update The One Show viewers on their stories. Since the first Challenge in 2011, Matt has been accompanied by 45 young people and clocked up 4,315 miles travelling the length and breadth of the UK whilst sharing their remarkable stories with the Great British public. The Rickshaw Challenge has so far raised £35,373,713 for BBC Children in Need.
Rob Unsworth, Head of The One Show said:
“We’re delighted to be bringing back the Rickshaw Challenge and marking its tenth year. The Challenge is one of the highlights in The One Show calendar and we know that our viewers will be just as excited as we are to follow Team Rickshaw’s journey with Matt by their side throughout.”
Tommy Nagra, Director of Content at BBC Children in Need added:
“For the young people who have taken part in The Rickshaw Challenge, the impact has been life-changing. A lot of care and attention has gone into making sure this year’s challenge tells their inspiring life stories whilst ensuring their welfare and safety is paramount. We look forward to working with the team at The One Show to deliver what promises to be a very special event from Goodwood in our anniversary year.”
The team will be riding the rickshaw which was designed and built by McLaren Group engineers in 2018. This rickshaw was custom built to be accessible to a wider range of riders.
Unlike in previous years, the challenge won’t be taking a public route and will be closed to the public, to protect the participants and the public’s safety due to COVID-19. The One Show viewers will be able to follow Team Rickshaw’s progress on the show each day, but for real-time updates on how the team are getting on, please follow BBC CiN and The One Show on social media to see behind the scenes and to show support to the team.
BBC Children in Need and The One Show will monitor the current situation and may update these plans if the situation changes.