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October, 2015

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Laurence, 12, goes into the cycling record books By Don Whiting TWELVE-year-old Laurence Chandler from Westbury-onTrym has become the youngest cyclist to complete a solo ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End. He cycled the 884-mile journey in 20 days, averaging 44 miles per day, and clocked up 82 miles on the last day to reach journey’s end. With him at all times was his father Robert who kept close behind, and occasionally just ahead, in his camper van. The van was home to them both on their incredible journey, providing somewhere to eat, sleep and take rest breaks. Quite apart from the personal challenge, Laurence wanted to benefit a charity. He chose SmileTrain which helps children throughout the world who are born with a cleft lip or palate. Smile Train provides free cleft repair surgeries to those in need while helping to train local doctors. This makes it possible for a child born with a cleft to eat, breathe, speak properly, and smile. As Voice went to press, he had already attracted £2717.56 in sponsorship, but there is more to come. Laurence is a Year 8 student at Bristol Free School, and on October 2nd the whole school was set to mark World Smile Day with a mass cycle ride. Headteacher Richard Clutterbuck said: “What Laurence has achieved is extraordinary and a wonderful example to us all.

“When we broke up at the end of the Summer Term I asked him what he planned to do in the holidays and he told me he would be doing some cycling! That was all he said at that stage.” It was planned as a nonuniform day with all 702 students and 87 staff riding a total of 884 miles between them, matching Laurence’s distance and raising their own sponsorship. Laurence is the youngster in the family. He has an older brother and sister aged 21 and 19, and his father was concerned before the ride whether he had prepared enough. “The longest ride he had done before that was 30 miles,” said Robert. “Based on this, my intention at the start was 30 miles a day. What happened was that Laurence went as far as he wanted to each day, and no more. “It was always his ride, his project – not mine. There was never any intention to break records or anything like that, but after four days he really got into his stride and became determined to do it, both for himself and for SmileTrain. “I think what inspired him about the charity was that they could change somebody’s life with one relatively small intervention. “Of course I was totally focused on his welfare throughout the ride, monitoring his nutrition and rest, and amazingly he suffered no injury or strain except catching the back of his knee on a pedal one day. “Whenever he stopped I did him a bowl of dried fruit, nuts

Team Chandler: 884 miles and 20 days later ... Laurence and his proud father Robert at Land’s End

and chocolate. Lunch often consisted of a peanut butter and honey sandwich and an abundance of Brazil nuts. “At the end of the day’s ride I usually prepared him a snack, and dinner was usually spaghetti bolognaise or another pasta. “On day five he was rising behind the van and climbing a pretty steep hill in the rain. I could hear him shouting at himself, willing himself on. “As a parent I felt awful at that moment, but it proved to be a coming of age thing. He was making the big decisions about whether to carry on and how far to ride each day, not me. “Fourteen miles from home he pumped the air when he saw Land’s End on a signpost for the first time. He was on an absolute roll. “That last stretch of 82 miles should have been a two-day ride,

but he was determined to do it in one.” And his equipment? Laurence chose the relative comfort of his familiar mountain bike because it provides a more upright position and has a more forgiving suspension than most racing bikes. No doubt there were all sorts on bikes on view when the students and staff of Bristol Free School collectively emulated Laurence’s 884-mile ride on October 2nd, and Voice will cover that fully in the next issue. If readers are inspired by Laurence’s achievement, they can give to SmileTrain via www. justgiving.com/LaurenceJOGLE2015/. It’s an opportunity to help millions of children in the world who suffer from cleft lip and palate.

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