Youngsters tackle cycling challenge

Young champions from the Campaign for National Parks’ Mosaic project are taking part in a marathon cycle ride this weekend (7-9th) to raise funds for a small, vibrant but financially pressed youth project in the west end of Newcastle.

Around 15 youngsters from the Lake District and Northumberland Mosaic projects will be braving the elements to cycle from Whitehaven in Cumbria to North Shields in Tyne and Wear. They will take in parts of the Lake District and Northumberland National Parks and sections of the Coast to Coast and Hadrian’s Wall.

They are raising funds for the CHAT Trust, an Anglican-led Churches Acting Together outreach project based in the west end of Newcastle. It runs projects and services designed with and for the local community. It includes the BASE, which helps young people, aged between 13-21 make positive informed choices about their life path, offering opportunities to explore and develop music skills, such a lyric writing, recording tracks, mixing, DJing and performing.

Paddy Villiers-Stuart, Mosaic Youth Project Officer for Northumberland, said the champions had thought of the idea after a ride earlier this summer: “A number of the champions also help out at this youth centre and realised that a lot of the equipment was either old or broken. They wanted to make a difference and hope to raise enough money to buy a video camera for the centre.”

Mr Villiers-Stuart said he had been overwhelmed with offers of support for the charity ride. “Sustrans has offered to lend some bikes; Dave Buchan from Cycle 4 Health has said he will lead the ride and has organised transport for the bikes and a support vehicle.

“The YHA have offered one night’s accommodation at Alston too – the community has been fantastic,” he added.

Other young people from Gateshead and the Scotswood Area Strategy in Newcastle have also been involved, while the young cyclists have organised all their food, accommodation, route and other transport costs. They come from diverse backgrounds, including Jamaica, Iran, Bangladesh, Algeria and the Shetland Isles as well as from across the region.

Cameron Crags, who volunteers at the CHAT Trust and has done a lot to organise the ride, said: “I want to raise money for CHAT to enable the organisation to be able to buy new equipment to give the kids that go there the chance to do something productive with their time and so they can be inspired to do something creative – whether through music, dance or art – as well as keeping them off the street and out of trouble.”

Mandy Roberts, Engagement Officer at Northumberland National Park said: “It’s always great to welcome young people into national parks, but this group have come up with a really challenging and rewarding way to see and travel through the fantastic landscapes of the Lake District and Northumberland National Park. I’m sure they’ll have some good stories to tell and perhaps be able to use the experience in their creative work back at the CHAT Trust.”
Donations can be sent online to the CHAT Trust at