Each year, we invite up to 2 young people from the charities supported by the William Wates Memorial Trust to join us on tour for a stage as ‘Charity Visitors’. They ride either a full stage, or as much of it as they possibly can before then helping our team at a feed station. They are accompanied by one of their key workers, and one or both of them takes the opportunity to talk to our riders after dinner about their experiences, the work of their charity and just how the WWMT grant has helped them. The benefits of this are twofold:
- A young person gets the opportunity of a lifetime to come and ride a stage of the Tour de France, to challenge themselves not just on the bike, but to talk to the riders who are supporting them.
- Our riders get to meet one of the young people their efforts are supporting and ask them, face to face, about their life and the work of their charity. They also have a unique opportunity to support them in their ride during the day, sharing the camaraderie of the peloton.
Here are just some of the comments we have received back from previous Charity Visitors:
Tyrese from Westminster House Youth Club
Tyrese came out, fresh from his GCSE exams to ride in the Alps, accompanied by his key worker Thandi. He conquered the bulk of the stage showing enormous determination and strength of spirit. He spoke to the group about his experience as a participant of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme that is funded at WHYC by a WWMT grant. Thandi also talked to the riders about his work and WHYC and explained: “we never give up on any of our kids”.
“The biggest challenge for me was the mountains which I was worried about. I have never seen anything like them before, except in a film. I was also worried about giving a speech to everybody, but when I got there everyone was so friendly that I felt fine about it. When everybody clapped at the end of the speech I felt very relived and that I had done an ok job…
The best bit was the enthusiasm of the other riders, especially Phil (lead cyclist). Everybody had their own goals, but they were still keen to help me. I would like to do the whole Tour de Force one day…
I am just applying for Summer jobs and I think this is a great thing to put on my CV. Not many people get to say they have been out to cycle part of the Tour de France and I am sure I will be asked about it in interviews”.
Johny from Access to Sport
Johnny is involved in a BMX project that is part of the Access to Sport program. He came out with his Dad and was particularly keen to spend time with our mechanics and support crew.
“The best bit was riding in the vans and setting up the rest stops. It was great spending time with the helpers. I also really enjoyed seeing the mechanic and all the different things that he needed to do each day …
I really enjoyed it. Everyone was really friendly and it was a lot more exciting than I thought it would be.”
Callum from Carney’s Community
“I think the best bit was meeting all of the people. Everyone was really friendly and I was shocked that some of them were doing the whole of the tour in 3 weeks with only 2 rest days. It showed me that there are people who will do things like that to help raise money for people like me…
It definitely improved my confidence. It showed me that if I get set a challenge I will push myself to complete it. It’s also helped my confidence because I’ve never really spoken to people who aren’t from my background and I thought they might not want to talk to me, but they all did and were really nice …
I also wanted to say thank you to everyone who organised it and everyone who took part. I have now done something that lots of people will never get the opportunity to do”.
Ruqiya from The Winchester Project (‘The Winch’)
“Meeting the team was the best bit of taking part in the Tour de Force. Even though it was a short trip, I really enjoyed getting to know everyone. Some of the conversations I had really inspired me … it was so lovely meeting people who are genuinely interested in the charity they donate to. I had such a good few days with a team who were so incredibly supportive and encouraging.”
Mike from Eikon
“I loved every moment, despite the pain and the feeling at the end of the ride was unbelievable. I came back after the 100km to give a speech and I was knackered but the speech I gave seemed to move people. It made me feel like I was cared for but by complete strangers! It was overwhelming and incredible. Eikon re-booted my life. Tour de Force focused my ambitions and enabled me to aim for the stars!”
The Charity Visitor project is funded in its entirety by a 2013 Lifer who asked to remain involved with both the Tour de Force and the William Wates Memorial Trust.