Phoebe (18) from Belper is on the Level three Extended Diploma in Horse Management at Derby College's Broomfield Hall campus in Morley. She was selected for the challenge following her involvement with Treetops Hospice Trust, a project part funded by BBC Children in Need. Now in its sixth year, this year's Rickshaw team will cover a 470-mile journey from the Scottish Border town of Jedburgh to central London, all to raise money for BBC Children in Need. Along the way, BBC's The One Show presenter Matt Baker will be on the road cycling alongside the team offering support and advice, whilst Alex Jones will be following their every move, cheering them on, live from studio. Embarking on Friday 11th November the young riders will work their way down Britain's East Coast in a bid to cross the finish line on Friday 18th November, in time for the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show.
In August 2013, Phoebe's life changed forever when her dad suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed and died in their family home. The news came as a shock. In the months that followed the family tried to adjust, with Phoebe returning to school to take her GSCEs and her mum doing everything possible to maintain a sense of stability within the home. However, the family struggled to come to terms with their loss and the grief began to manifest in ways they didn't expect. For the next year Phoebe struggled to sleep and focus on school, staying up all night worrying about how her family would get on without her father.
Her father had always been someone Phoebe could turn to for anything, whether a hug, a laugh or a shoulder to cry on. Although her friends and family were supportive, no one fully understood how she felt; that there would always be someone missing from her life and that was hard. At Treetops Hospice Trust, project funded by BBC Children in Need, Phoebe was provided with the time, space and support to understand her feelings and start coming to terms with the family's loss.
It was at Treetops that Phoebe met Jules, a bereavement counsellor in whom she could confide everything from her sadness at her father's sudden death to arguments with her mum or brother.
Although it's still difficult for the family, the support they received at Treetops has been vital to helping them keep moving forward. The hospice has received funding from the Charity since 2010. Phoebe said: "Losing my dad was, and still is, incredibly difficult. Treetops helped me understand that it was okay to feel angry, sad or scared. They helped me cope, and showed me ways in which I could remember my dad, and I'm so grateful for that. "I know dad would want me to seize every moment and make it count, which is why I'm taking on the Rickshaw Challenge. I'm hoping to make him proud, as I fundraise to help other children."
Phoebe owns her own horse Hero and says that swapping the saddle for a rickshaw seat is harder than she thought. "Horse riding is a breeze compared to this but I have been training hard at the gym and on a bike to get ready for the challenge. "There are six of us taking part and we will be taking it in turns to pedal the rickshaw. "I feel very proud and grateful to have this opportunity to give back in some way and to share my story. It's going to be an exciting week!"
Her College lecturer Stephanie Meadows said: "We are all behind Phoebe and will be following her progress avidly. "Students across the College will be doing their own fund raising for Children in Need and I know that many of us, particularly here at Broomfield, are pledging support for the Rickshaw Challenge. "Horse riding requires stamina, strength and core strength so I am sure that she will do very well and do us all proud."
To date the Challenge has raised more than £12million and in keeping with tradition, the young riders will not only test their pedal power, but also their mettle, as they deliver speeches to a live audience explaining their motivations for taking on the challenge this year. The team hopes their efforts will not only help them raise money, but awareness of the real difference being made to disadvantaged children and young people's lives across the UK thanks to BBC Children in Need.
Speaking of this year's challenge Matt Baker said: "Every year I am inspired by the incredible young people who take on the Rickshaw Challenge, and this year is no different. The six young riders in Team Rickshaw have faced major challenges in their lives already, but thanks to the Charity they have been able to overcome so much; and now they feel ready to give back. We hope that the public will rally behind them to help raise more money for BBC Children in Need. It really does make such a difference."
Alex Jones added: "I am delighted that the Rickshaw Challenge is returning this year. Last year we were amazed by the outpouring of support from people across the UK who gave to the challenge and followed the riders on their extraordinary journey. This year's team is brilliant, so we're calling on everyone to show their support once more and push Team Rickshaw to another successful year!"
Since 2011, The One Show Rickshaw Challenge has raised funds for BBC Children in Need, with each and every penny going on to support disadvantaged children and young people right here in the UK. The One Show viewers will be able to follow Team Rickshaw's progress on the show each day, but the full route – including a real-time update of the rickshaw's progress – is also available at http://pudsey.viewranger.com/. To support the challenge, you can donate either £5 or £10 by text. To donate £5 text the word TEAM to 70405. To donate £10 text TEAM to 70410. Texts will cost your donation plus the standard network message charge. All of your donation will go to BBC Children in Need. You must be 16 or over and please ask for the bill payer's permission. For more information and full terms and conditions go to bbc.co.uk/pudsey. The Text to donate Service will close on the 31st December 2016.