SACA bike ride boost for children’s hospice
A two-day charity bike ride organised by the Sikh Arts & Cultural Association (SACA) is optimistic about meeting its target of raising £25,000 for London’s first children’s hospice.
At the time of writing sponsors and collections taken at the start, finish and along the route from Birmingham to London had contributed more than £18,000 – enough to pay a year’s salary for a day play-and-care worker at the Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton, East London.
“It is a wonderful effort which we hope will spark greater support among the minority communities living around the hospice in East London and Essex,” said community fundraiser Manjeet Boparai.
She added: “This year we have noticed that pledges of support from the corporate sector, including top companies at Canary Wharf, are not materialising as we had hoped and we will be looking to the communities around the hospice to do their best to help us make up the shortfall.”
The hospice, founded in 2000 and run by 70 full and part-time staff, needs £1.8 million a year to fulfill its mission to provide care and support for children with life limiting and complex healthcare needs between the ages of nought and 19. It is a colossal fundraising endeavour.
Manjeet Boparai said: “At the moment we have 150 children on our books who will be using Richard House at some time during the year.”
The hospice facilities include eight bedrooms, a one-bedroom flat and a two-bedroom flat for family use, and a day care centre that can accept eight to ten children at a time.
SACA’s 140-mile bike ride was staged over the weekend of July 25-26 and was tackled by exactly 140 riders with a support team of 15 also covering the course. The cyclists included 20 women, a 55 year old, three under-18s accompanied by guardian marshals, and one tandem rider, aged nine, cycling behind a parent.
With funds from this year’s effort, SACA’s annual charity ride will have raised more than £200,000 in 20 years, for a number of different charities.
Each ride is a feat of organisation and minute-by-minute health and safety scrutiny to ensure there are no accidents to mar proceedings.
The 2009 ride started on Saturday July 25th at 9am after a cautionary film on proper health and safety behaviour on the roads and ended at around 6pm in Luton, where well over 100 riders and back-up staff slept overnight in the gurdwara.
Because the Luton temple could not accommodate everybody 30 people peeled off from the main pack ten miles earlier to sleep at the Bedford gurdwara and a small number of participants stayed with friends or relatives in the Luton area.
Back-up this year featured a dedicated St John Ambulance crew, cycle and motorcycle marshals, mobile refreshment vans, cycle mechanics and command and transport vehicles.
The ride concluded in Southall, west London, after a parade along The Broadway from Hayes – where the public were invited to fill collection buckets – to Southall Park where entertainment and a picnic were provided.
East London representative of SACA, Arvinder Singh, said: “Our website www.charitybikeride.com proposes that we are all one and that was the spirit of a wonderful event. There were people from all parts of life involved, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus – no bar at all. We had Chinese people and people from the black community and even a Korean mechanic! There were people from all denominations working together.”
Richard House Hospice came into existence through the determination of a remarkable woman, Anthea Hare, who as a teenager in the West Midlands saw her brother Richard, a young adult, die from profound and multiple disabilities. He was treated by a West Midlands hospital and she and her parents discovered there was no hospice available for youngsters in his situation.
Anthea became a sick children’s nurse and when she moved to East London she carried with her the dream of creating a children’s hospice that combined the different kinds of care offered by hospital and home.
Many years later she decided to turn her vision into reality and cashed in a pension to pay for research into the need for a children’s hospice in the locality.
She began to promote the idea with colleagues around 1985 and in the next few years a charity was registered and an appeal for capital funding started. The land was acquired in 1997 and the main building work completed in 2001. A home care service was launched in 2000, followed by a day care centre and then in December 2002 the residential facilities.
Anthea Hare is now the hospice life president.
There will always be a need for hundreds of thousands of pounds of community fundraising support at Richard House. A day care session costs around £462 to fund, for example.
Manjeet Boparai believes that not all the ethnic communities living and working in the areas served by the hospice are fully aware of the service it provides for children, without regard to their background.
“Many people come to help, either with our fundraising or by having events of their own – like the Sikh Arts & Cultural Association – but we still have a job to do in telling the communities about our work and in encouraging them to help us out a little bit more,” she said.
To find out more about the work of the Richard House hospice and how you might help visit the charity’s website at www.richardhouse.org.uk
For more on SACA’s Birmingham to London bike ride, with pictures and a list of sponsors, visit www.charitybikeride.com
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