The team leaving St Joan of Arc for Rouen

Today, a team consisting of 5 school staff including the Head Teacher and Chaplin, and 2 parents set off on the huge challenge of cycling to Rouen, France, from the school in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire and back to show that freedom is worth fighting for. The freedom that this team are undertaking the challenge for is the belief that all children should have the opportunities that are available to children in this country: education, shelter, health care, and most importantly a childhood.

St Joan of Arc Catholic School has a growing bond with Udayan, a centre in Calcutta, India that over 300 children call home. All of these children are the children of leprosy sufferers, some have the disease themselves, and as such would miss having many of the opportunities that every child deserves. Since March 2004, St Joan’s have held many fund raising events with the aim of supporting Udayan, and of spreading awareness in the local community about the work they carry out for the children of leprosy sufferers in Calcutta, India.

The riders are Mr Sweeney (Head Teacher), Liam Lynch (Chaplain), Mr McGlaughlin (English), Mr Simpson (PE), Mr Walsh (Maths), Mr D’Urso (Parent) & Mr Reilly (Parent). They are supported by Mr Knapton (Site Services) and Miss Devlin (Head of 6th Form) in the team bus. Their challenge will take 4 days and cover 250 miles.

All of these riders were cycling novices when they took up the challenge, some didn’t even have a bike to use – one is still borrowing a friend’s! The training has been gruelling and several of this final team were drafted in to replace others who have had to retire with training injuries.

A quick stop at St John’s Primary School on their way to Rouen

On leaving Rickmansworth the team stopped by St John’s Primary School to receive a sensational farewell from the pupils who lined both sides of the driveway as the team set off for Portsmouth. Next Friday St John’s will be fundraising themselves for Udayan with a sponsored walk, Years 1 – 5 will be walking a mile each, and the Year 6 pupils will be walking two miles. This amounts to 250 miles walked in total by the children of St John’s to match the distance the team will be cycling to Rouen. In addition, during lunch breaks next week the staff will be participating in a sponsored cycle (on exercise bikes) in the dining area at lunch times! Once again we thank St John’s for their continued support of the Udayan children.

On behalf of the staff, children and friends of Udayan we wish the team the very best of luck for a successful journey and thank them for their fundraising efforts. To those who have supported the team by donating, thank you for your generosity. If you haven’t donated already and would like to, you can do so through JustGiving where UK tax payers can GiftAid their donation as well, meaning Udayan will receive the tax relief worth an addition 25% of your donation. To donate, click here.

You can follow the teams progress on a website they have created by clicking here.

The Team’s Kit