Cyclists chasing the sun to support children’s charity

Beard cyclists

Brothers Oli and Ben Kenworthy are to cycle from one side of the country to another in a day to raise money for a charity that supports vulnerable young people in Oxfordshire.

The pair are aiming to set off from Minster in Kent at dawn and pedal 205 miles in 19 hours to reach Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset for sunset, in the Chase the Sun challenge.

The money they raise for YoCO (Youth Challenge Oxfordshire) through sponsorship of their efforts will be matched by the Beard Charitable Foundation at family-owned construction company Beard, where Oli works as a site manager.

In the lead up to the event on Saturday 18 June, Oli and Ben, who are aged 25 and 23 respectively, will be volunteering at YoCO groups, which meet during term time in Faringdon, Blackbird Leys, Berinsfield, Wantage and Henley.

They will also be taking part in YoCO’s Buttercup Challenge fundraiser on Sunday 8 May, in which people complete an active challenge ranging from running or cycling to walking the dog. Oli and Ben will be cycling in the event as a warm-up for their challenge, and as a way of getting to know some of the YoCO young people.

Oli, who works in the Guildford office of Beard, said: “Both Ben and I attended university in Oxford for four years. I graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Construction and Commercial Management, and Ben graduated from Lady Margaret Hall college at Oxford University with an MSc in Physics.

“It feels right for us to be giving back to the community in an area with which we have both been associated by raising funds for YoCO in the Chase the Sun cycling challenge.

“Ben and I believe it is vital that teenagers are supported in their mental wellbeing, especially after all they have been through during the pandemic and lockdowns, and YoCO does some great work to help young people develop personal confidence and resilience through their programmes.”

YoCO runs programmes to help teenagers overcome challenges such as the pressures of social media, bullying, mental health, lack of confidence and peer pressure to take risks. Beard, which has offices in Oxford, Guildford, Bristol and Swindon, is an active supporter of YoCO.

Melissa Barber, Head of People and Communications at Beard, said: “Beard recognises the importance of YoCO’s work with young people, and supports the charity in a variety of ways.

“This has included financial support from the Beard Charitable Foundation, and fundraising activities involving members of the team at Beard. In addition, senior members of YoCO were invited to give a presentation to Beard’s 300 employees at our annual Beard Communications Day in January 2020.

“The challenging cycle ride that Oli and his brother Ben will be undertaking is very much in keeping with Beard’s active support for YoCO, and the Beard Charitable Foundation will be making a donation towards their fundraising.”

Christine Douglas, Trustee at YoCO, said: “YoCO is delighted that Oli and Ben have chosen to support the work we do with vulnerable people in Oxfordshire, by taking on their own challenge and cycling over 200 miles.

“It is great to see them both getting to know our young people through volunteering with us, and seeing how their fundraising can have big impact on what we can achieve. This further illustrates our strong partnership with the Beard Charitable Foundation which continues to grow since we started in 2017. Together we wish them every success with Chase the Sun!”

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