Two brothers and their best friend from Mansfield are planning to cycle from London to Paris to raise money for a swimming pool for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Elliot and Max Pettifer, along with their life-long friend Matthew Weston, have nicknames themselves the Reliant Robins and are currently in training for the gruelling 300-mile sponsored bike ride in September.
The lads, who are all in their twenties, pledged their help after hearing Derwen College in Shropshire have a fundraising target of £50,000 needed to make urgent repairs to their swimming pool.
The 250 youngsters at the college learn adult life skills to enable them to find jobs and live as independently as possible. The pool is used for vital hydrotherapy and physiotherapy sessions.
Max Pettifer said: “I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the pupils, teachers and supporters. They really are the nicest bunch of people with the kindest hearts.
“It’s such a shame the employment rate is so low for people with learning difficulties. I really hope our ride can make a difference and that the swimming pool we are helping to repair will have a positive effect on the students’ lives.”
The Reliant Robins are hoping to raise more than £10,000 for the college and have launched a Crowd Funding page to help boost sponsorship from the public, friends and family.
Matthew Weston, who admitted the trio had rarely cycled further than the local shops, said: “Derwen College is not immune to funding cuts felt throughout the country and relies on the generous fundraising and donations from their supporters.
“When we saw the great work being carried out at the college we knew we had to help. The students enjoy using the pool for sport, recreation and training sessions for Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
“Swimming helps to build their strength and their confidence and we could all see how much it means to them.
“We’re not long-distance cyclists so we are really having to train hard. It’s going to be a difficult and gruelling journey but with every mile we take we’ll be helping other young people like ourselves get a great start in life.”
Louise Keevil, Director Charity and Corporate Services at Derwen College said: “We are delighted that Max, Elliot and Matthew have chosen us as their chosen charity for their bike ride from London to Paris. Times have never been as tough as they are now and without the kindness of others we would never be able to afford to get our pool back.
“It might seem like a luxury for some people but swimming is a vital part of our treatment here and it really improves the students’ quality of life.”
You can follow the gents and Derwen College on their journey via
Twitter - @reliant_robins,
Facebook - @reliantrobins
Instagram - @thereliantrobins