Louise Minchin on her cycling fundraiser for people affected by the coronavirus

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin - Credit: Archant

Sports stars and families across the country joined Louise and cycled their way to helping people affected by the pandemic.

Time passes in mysterious ways in lockdown, simultaneously fast and slow. It is difficult to keep track of what day it is as we try to fill our time in different ways without being able to see our family and friends. I imagine we have all had difficult days, but despite the tough ones, I feel lucky to have had moments of joy brought by unexpected connections and a deep sense of community.

Millions of people shared in the moment when Captain Tom Moore celebrated turning 100 with a flypast on BBC Breakfast. The World War Two veteran captured the world’s imagination when he decided to walk 100 laps of his garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together. What started as an ambition to raise £1,000 turned into an epic fundraising feat, with more than £32 million donated, and a number one duet of You’ll Never Walk Alone, with Michael Ball.

Captain Tom’s grace, humility and determination meant everyone wanted to be involved, donating to his chosen charity, and inundating him with thousands of birthday cards, hand-made gifts and cakes. He made us all feel part of something special in these dark days.

On a very different scale to Captain Tom, to help raise money for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, I had a madcap idea to support the BBC’s The Big Night In, setting my own challenge to cycle 100 miles on my static bike at home. When I first came up with The Big Bike In, I thought maybe 40 people might join me by cycling at the same time in their own homes, and I hoped I could persuade a couple of sports stars to take part. Very quickly it became much bigger than I had expected, and on the day not only did Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, six-time Olympic Champion Sir Chris Hoy and our most successful British female Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey join me, but more than 2,000 others took part at home, including families doing relays around their back gardens.

The atmosphere on the ride was electric, the support for our joint endeavour on social media was extraordinary and between us we raised in excess of £26,000, a sum far past my wildest expectations. It left me exhilarated and uplifted by a powerful sense of community during these strange days, and realising that although we may be physically apart, we are also together.

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