With many grassroots sporting activities put on hold as a result of the nationwide lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it’s not uncommon to hear about people taking up other activities to keep physically active.
However, for a group of four lads from London, that activity turned into a monumental challenge, which has subsequently raised over £4,000 for two local causes, including the St Matthew’s Project.
Adam Wallace, Sam Mence, Alex Sneddon and Joe Marron, collectively, had only ever cycled a few miles at a time. As a result of the lockdown, the friends started to cycle a bit more, before coming up with a plan to complete a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and raise money for great causes during a time of uncertainty for so many; a challenge which would see the group cycle the length of the United Kingdom, from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
“At the beginning of the year, none of us had ever cycled more than a few miles, so we decided to pick this challenge as a way of seeing more of the UK,” explained Adam.
“After doing some more research and chatting to other people, we realised it would be a great way to raise some money for two local sporting projects.
“During the journey, one of the biggest challenges we faced was Storm Ellen,” Adam continued.
“The last five days saw us cycling into headwinds of 30mph! Waking up every day, already exhausted but knowing we had 70-miles ahead of us that day was really tough. There were also broken bikes, which resulted in numerous visits to bike shops and left us behind schedule a few times.”
In addition to those challenges, group member Sam lost feeling in his fourth and fifth fingers, which only regained full sensation three weeks after they finished the challenge!
Setting a fundraising target of £1,000, the quartet aimed to split donations 50/50 between St Matthew’s Project and Belvedere Boxing Club CIC.
“Due to the pretty last-minute decision to raise money, we set our target of £1,000. However, we smashed that before we even started the cycle! As we started making our way through the country, the fundraiser picked up more traction. We couldn’t have dreamed of hitting four-times our target, so we’re all overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity, especially in these uncertain times.”
St Matthew’s Project started life as a kickabout in Brockwell Park for young people from one estate in Brixton, St Matthew’s, back in 2004. Fast-forward to today, and the project engages with over 200 young people each week from across the Lambeth area, has developed over 200 FA-qualified coaches, progressed the girls’ game locally and consistently provides free, fun football activities to young people living within a recognised deprived area national for crime and living environment.
Whilst football started the project, it now forms just a small portion of what is delivered, with work including mental health and wellbeing, a counselling service, parent and toddler schemes, trauma reaction and more. With COVID-19 impacting all grassroots projects, it’s incredible to know that St Matthew’s Project will benefit from the group’s outstanding fundraising.
On Saturday 26 September, three of the four members of the group that undertook the challenge had the opportunity to visit Brockwell Park to meet Lee and Dwight, founder and head coach, and development officer respectively, to see first-hand where St Matthew’s Project delivers the majority of its weekend football and to understand why the donation through their fundraising is so important.
Adam, Sam, Alex and Joe now have their sights set on a half Iron Man challenge to raise even more money, so watch this space for more details.
To donate to the group’s fundraising please click here