TV’s Matt Baker has hailed a trailer firm for playing a “crucial part” in getting the 2021 Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge on the road.
Ifor Williams Trailers, who have factories in Corwen and Cynwyd in Denbighshire and Sandycroft and Deeside Industrial Estate in Flintshire, supplied the trailer which has been ferrying the bright yellow high-tech McLaren-made rickshaw from place to place during each leg of Matt’s fundraising venture in aid of BBC Children in Need.
They made the flat-bed model to a bespoke design, specially wrapped in the colourful Children in Need and Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge livery.
The energy-sapping journey covers nearly 150 miles and is being recorded for a one-off documentary, The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge, which will air on BBC One at 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 10.
The one-hour documentary will share the team’s remarkable individual stories and also celebrate the history of the much-loved BBC Children in Need staple event, at the same time as raising money to change young lives.
Since he first launched the event a decade ago Matt has helped raise more than £41million for BBC Children in Need and cycled more than 4,500 miles travelling the length and breadth of the UK.
Traditionally, the final stages of the rickshaw marathon would be filmed on BBC1’s The One Show, of which Matt was a long-standing presenter.
But he departed from the nightly show to help save his family’s organic sheep farm in the Durham hills where he grew up.
The story of how he returned to the farm to help his parents after his mum was injured in a farming accident has been documented in popular TV series Matt Baker: Our Farm in the Dales.
While working on the farm Matt first came into contact with Ifor Williams Trailers after he needed a trailer to transport livestock.
He bought a trailer from the firm, and he was hugely impressed by the trailer’s drivability and the company’s customer service and quality.
So, when it came to finding a trailer for the Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge Matt said: “I knew exactly who to go to from the start.
“Ifor Williams Trailers is a brilliant company. Once we approached them and explained what we needed they really got into the spirit of this challenge.
“They provided us with exactly the right kind of trailer, a really superb model which is easy to handle.
“I was hugely impressed with the graphics that put it perfectly on brand with Children in Need – it’s colourful and bright and looks brilliant travelling through the landscape with the Rickshaw on board.
“Our crew take it everywhere and many people will have now seen it travelling around the motorways of the UK with our logos on it.
“We load the rickshaw onto it at the end of each leg of the relay, then use it to transport the rickshaw to the next location so it is there ready for the following day’s ride.
“Ifor Williams Trailers have played a crucial part helping us to get this challenge on the road. They are a firm who go all out to meet their customers’ needs, but more than that they put community at the heart of all they do. They have been brilliant with us every step of the way and I now count them as my friends.”
Rob Small, Head of Sales at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “We were delighted to be able to help Matt with this wonderful fundraising event in aid of BBC Children in Need which provides vitally important funding to change young lives for the better.
“Matt is an all-round great guy and is rapidly turning into a national treasure and it was an honour to play our part in providing back-up support for the young rickshaw riders undertaking this tough but extremely worthwhile challenge.”
As Matt and the rickshaw team arrived at Claire House Children’s Hospice, Bebbington, on the Wirral, on the third leg of their journey local families and friends of the hospice turned out in force to greet them.
Speaking after he and young Rickshaw Challenge rider Olivia, 17, from Southport, completed a 30-mile ride from Southport, Matt said the trailer is an invaluable piece of kit which has made the behind the scenes logistics of running this year’s Rickshaw Challenge much easier.
He said it was especially important because for 2021 the challenge was compelled to take on a different format to keep the event Covid-safe.
Normally riders follow a single route over a series of days. But this year – the 11th year of the annual event – instead of the riders coming to the rickshaw, for the first time the rickshaw has been going to them as they have taken on a relay style ride in five stages.
This meant that having a reliable way of ferrying the rickshaw around the country between legs was key to the success of the whole challenge – and the Ifor Williams team provided exactly the solution needed in the form of an easy to manoeuvre and quick to operate trailer.
It will follow presenter, Matt, on his bicycle accompanying each rickshaw leg across the UK and passing the ‘rickshaw baton’ to a new rider at each different stage. He is also filmed loading the trusty rickshaw onto and off the trailer.
Live bulletins in which Matt gives daily updates of the rickshaw’s progress have also been aired on BBC’s Morning Live programme.
Over the course of a week Matt has delighted in meeting five inspiring young people who each take on their own home-town leg of the route.
All the rickshaw riders have at different points in their lives received help from organisations supported by BBC Children in Need. As well as Olivia, others in the relay team are Thomas, 16 of Somerset, whose father was killed and mum severely injured in a car crash; Rainbow, 18, of Liverpool who was born visually impaired and became blind at the age of nine; Harrison, 20, of Cumbria, who survived a series of life-changing operations after being born with a potentially fatal bowel infection; and liver transplant recipient Millie, 20, of Edinburgh.
Matt said having a hassle free and reliable behind the scenes logistics set-up was essential to the ongoing success of the whole challenge.
He was also full of praise for Olivia who he described as a superb inspiration pedalling 30-miles from her home in Southport to Bebbington, Wirral, where she finished at Claire House.
The hospice has been supported by Children in Need donations in the past and offers much needed respite care for seriously ill children and their families, including Olivia’s younger sister Jess who was born with a rare life-limiting chromosomal disorder.
Matt said Olivia has selflessly dedicated herself to fundraising from an early age and proved an incredible ambassador for the hospice and for the Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge.
He said it had been an honour to ride alongside her.
Claire House Communications Officer Hannah Shannon said everyone at the hospice including families and friends of patients and staff was hugely excited to see the Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge arrive at their door.
She said: “This is a brilliant fundraiser, and we are so proud that Olivia was chosen to take part. She is so determined, and we always knew she could do it.”
Hot drinks were laid on for all the participants and Claire House kitchen coordinator Paula Eaton and volunteer Joan Worsey baked cupcakes and biscuits to handout as a token of thanks.
She said: “It was quite tough on my legs but knowing that it was for such a good cause and that so many people were supporting me helped to spur me on.
“It has been a fantastic experience but most of all it is great to know that it has helped raise money to support so many worthy organisations.”