The Rickshaw Challenge 2018- Harry’s story

The inspirational Plymouth school boy, Harry, is taking part in the ‘The Rickshaw Challenge’ 2018, from the 9th -15th November , cycling from the Eurotunnel in Calais all the way to Manchester for BBC’s Children in Need.

Harry suffers with a Cerebral Palsy, a lifelong disability that affects movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth. Harry’s disability affects his arms, legs and his talking and due to his difficulty speaking, he uses a special device to help him communicate.

He lives with his mum, dad and two brothers and attends a local Plymouth school. Steve, Harry’s dad, says that he is a ‘normal teenager, he is stroppy on occasions, he’s funny and Harry’s just Harry’. As an avid Plymouth Argyle fan, Harry also plays for the Plymouth Argyle disability team where he is able to represent his favourite team taking part in the hobby which he loves.

The One show’s Rickshaw Challenge is 8 day cycling challenge, where 6 amazing young people join Matt Baker to cycle a demanding 423 mile challenge across the UK on a custom made Rickshaw bike to raise money for Children in Need. The Rickshaw challenge began 10 years ago and has since raised thousands for the chosen BBC charity which supports many other charities all around the UK and helps to change the lives of young people.

Having Cerebral palsy, Harry says that ‘when I speak I worry people don’t understand me, its difficult to join in with others as sometimes people don’t speak to me as I am hard to understand.’ He often ‘feels lonely’ and says ‘ I wish they’d try to talk to me’.

Gill, Harry’s mum, says that Cerebral palsy is a ‘isolating disability’ and she also says that ‘when you are given the opportunities to meet families who are in a similar boat to you, it gives you an extra level of support’. Harry spends some of his time with this charity which support him regularly.

Friends and Family of Special Children is a non-profit organisation unique to Plymouth, providing information , support and services for families with disabled children. The charity’s services give families opportunities to network and create bespoke training and educational environments. They run social and leisure events for young carers and their integrated activities enable children with disabilities opportunities to experience a huge diversity of sports and other activities not available elsewhere.

Jessica Butland, a member off staff at the charity, suggests that it is ‘difficult for children who have physical disabilities to access swimming pools and especially hydro-therapy pools which are just so beneficial’. Harry enjoys spending time at ‘The Hub’ which is located in Ivybridge as he says ‘It is nice to go out and not be treated differently’. Harry said that ‘Friends and Families have given me a lot of opportunities to do things I didn’t think I’d be able to do’.

‘It is really nice going swimming with my family as I can stay in the hydro-therapy pool longer and its more fun as my muscles can stay warm’ says Harry. The charity has given him ‘confidence to try new things’. Harrys parents, Gill and Steve, say that it has been an ’emotional journey’ and ‘it is lovely to see him so excited about doing the Rickshaw challenge’.

Throughout his journey where he has been taking part in the Rickshaw challenge he has been given the opportunity to meet with Joanna Lumley, a famous actress, where he spoke during one of her tour dates at a show in Bristol. He stunned the audience with his remarkable courage and resilience and it was a experience he will never forget.

Harry has been noticed by the British public because of his huge, beaming smile which he has had throughout his whole experience completing the Rickshaw challenge. He has been given a huge amount of donations by members of the public as he has driven past fans on the streets, there has been many people recognising him. He has become rather a national celebrity! He has even been handed his own personalised pasty as he has travelled across the UK.

The hashtag #HappyasHarry has been very popular online where people are posting updates about Harry and his journey. ‘I hope that by taking part I can show that no matter how difficult life is you can get through it with determination and a smile’ said Harry.

He has been a huge inspiration for all and when he crosses the finish line on Friday after the 8 day journey, he said he will ‘feel like a champion’, however, he also suggested he will ‘feel shattered’.

If you wish to donate to the BBC Children in Need please click on this link – https://mydonatetelethonsappeals.bt.com/donate/cin2018/index.html.

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