Students from a Croydon school touched by last year’s tram crash have been given an opportunity to focus on the future by taking part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.
Teachers and pupils at Meridian High School were shocked when former pupil Dane Chinnery died when a tram derailed in November last year, one of seven fatalities while 58 others – including at least three other former pupils – were injured.
Now, in partnership with education charity Teach First, more than 20 students will take to the roads of the capital as part of Prudential RideLondon, the world’s biggest cycling festival, on July 30.
The students and teachers will be provided with bikes, equipment, training and nutrition advice as part of the new 2017 PruGoals programme, boosting the wellbeing and employability skills of young people.
That saw them take to the Lee Valley VeloPark for the official launch, joining double Olympic champion boxer Nicola Adams – herself a cycling novice who will take to the start line for her own 46-mile ride in the summer.
“We’re very proud and privileged to be part of this amazing event, we’ve got 23 students taking part and had plenty more wanting to join them, so to have the most of any group is excellent,” said headteacher Martin Giles.
“Our school is in quite a disadvantaged community within an area of lots of deprivation, so this is an amazing opportunity for them to go out and about to see London in ways they wouldn’t normally get to do.
“A number of our students were directly and indirectly affected by the tram incident, and it was very traumatic for what is a very close-knit community.
“I’ve been the headteacher for more than two years, and day-by-day I feel incredibly proud and this has just added heaps to that, taking to the event with gusto.”
Charlie Cooper is one of the Meridian High School pupils taking part.
“I got involved because I thought it would be a good opportunity to take part in a sport I’ve never done before while being involved with something fun,” he said.
“It should be a fantastic experience, some of my friends and I have got some competition going but the main priority is just getting over the finish line.
“Nicola Adams is such an inspiration, coming from a similar background to us and going on to hit the heights. So for her to take part in this alongside us is very inspirational – if she can do it, then why can’t we?”
This will be the second year the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 will take place, with those riding able to cycle on traffic-free streets past some of London’s iconic landmarks as well as beautiful Surrey countryside, before crossing the line at The Mall.
For Nicola Adams – who picked up an OBE earlier this month – this will be a first major experience of long-distance cycling, a challenge she is relishing.
“It’s fantastic to be able to inspire everyone from Teach First – and importantly with Prudential RideLondon, it’s about going and enjoying the ride,” she said.
“Cycling isn’t my first sport, I use it for training and I’ll have to up that more and more to ride over 46 miles.
“I’ve never cycled that far in my entire life so it’s going to be a huge challenge but I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be hard, the ride will probably be the easiest bit of the lot come the end of it all, getting a chance to cycle past the sites right from the Olympic Park – where I haven’t been for a while – through to The Mall on the finish.”
Nicola Adams was speaking at the launch of PruGoals, a partnership between Prudential and Teach First which aims to empower young people to drive their ambitions and fulfil their potential regardless of social or economic background.
To enter the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46, visit www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk/events/46/entries/