Twenty-two riders set off on Saturday (5 August) on a gruelling six-day, 410-mile cycle ride from Leicester to Luxembourg, to raise much needed funds for two charities.
The team departed, from Leicester’s historic clock tower, supported by a huge crowd who cheered them on their way. There was a huge party atmosphere, all captured on film by British Muslim TV, who are following the cyclists on their journey. The team cycled 70 miles on day one through horrendous rain and hail to their first destination in Cambridge.
After an overnight stay, the team set off on day two, cycling 80 miles down to Harwich, where they caught the ferry to the continent. “Fortunately the weather on day two was kinder to us,” said Fundraising Manager Haroon Mota, who cycled with the team on the first two days. “We were even stopped by a passer-by who donated £40, adding to the £70k already raised.
Established in 2012 by a group of De Montfort University students, Riders of Shaam, have hosted annual cycle rides to different parts of Europe, all for worthy causes and to date have raised more than £115,000. Add to this the £70k raised so far for the 2017 chosen charities and that figure becomes £180,000 and still growing.
The two beneficiaries this year are Wakefield humanitarian charity Penny Appeal and Leicester hospice Loros. £65,000 has been raised so far, well exceeding their target for Penny Appeal of £50k to raise funds for three of the charities many humanitarian projects.
£20k will go towards Urgent Response, a programme covering emergency aid for Syria, Somalia and Yemen. Penny Appeal is supporting Syria and neighbouring countries Yemen, where civilians are targeted amid the conflict and areas affected by famine in East Africa. The urgent response project will deliver aid such as food parcels, clean water, medical supplies and medical assistance.
£15k has been raised for Hifz Orphans in Gambia. This is a unique three-year sponsorship programme that supports orphans in reading, learning and memorising the Holy Qur’an and gives them the quality care they need to build brighter futures.
£15k has been raised for Thirst Relief in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Three children die every minute from drinking dirty water, with access to reliable clean water, thousands of lives can be saved each day. It costs just £300 to build a well for a family.
“The riders have done an amazing job so far,” said Haroon Mota, Penny Appeal Fundraising Manager. They have trained through Ramadan with very little food and water and still managed to raise this incredible amount of money that will benefit so many people across the world. We can’t thank them enough and wish them a safe and comfortable ride”
Finally, £10k will support Loros the hospice covering Leicestershire and Rutland. The money raised will go towards the purchase of new beds for patients with an increased risk of falling out, these new beds provide maximum security and reduce the occurrence and severity of falls. Loros Fundraising Co-ordinator Andrew Ward said: “We are extremely grateful to the Riders of Shaam for their commitment to fundraise and would like to wish the entire team good luck in the build up to their cycle challenge.
“It is a real privilege being part of the Riders of Shaam,” said leader of the group Amin Omar. “I have taken part in every ride, each of which brings a new experience, new people, new challenges, ups and downs, but above all, the strong unity between the group. It is more than just cycling, the community really pull together, donate towards the cause, sponsor us and really get behind us. The support is incredible. Every year a new challenge begins, so watch out for us in 2018!”
Supporters can follow the progress of the riders with regular updates and pictures from the start by following @pennyappeal @teamorange and @RidersofShaam on Twitter.