Big Issue Foundation

Tour de Flat raises over £16,000 for Big Issue vendors

Jake Hill-Gowing decided to take on the epic challenge of cycling the distance of the Tour de France on his exercise bike in March to raise money for Big Issue vendors who have been off the streets and unable to the sell due to coronavirus.

Whilst the plan was to finish on 22nd May Jake completed the 3,500km journey 3 weeks earlier than he’d planned and smashed his original fundraising target to raise an incredible £16,500 for Big Issue vendors.

The final 100km leg of the journey was live streamed on Rob Walker’s Lockdown Live with guest appearances from BBC radio presenter Chris Stark, Nick Heath and Rebecca Charlton and our very own Rhia Docherty.

“Wow, what a ride! 41 days without rest on an exercise is something you can only warn people against after you’ve done it. But honestly what an amazing journey. I think the enormity of the challenge truly sunk in when I struggled to do 45km on day 1. But somehow, 41 days later I’ve just crossed the line after doing plus 100km rides 7 days in a row.”

Jake was inspired to take on this challenge to support Big Issue vendors like Stevie, who usually sells the magazine at Old Street outside his office and has become a friend over the years.

“I may have been completing this stupid challenge alone in my flat, but I definitely wasn’t alone on the bike. Stevie, my good friend, you were definitely with me the entire way, as well as all of the amazing Big Issue vendors throughout the country. To Stevie, my good mate, and all of you, thank you for spurring me on. You are all truly amazing in what you do and the World is a little bit brighter for having you in it. And to the Big Issue Foundation, thank you for supporting my mate, and the mate’s of countless others around the country. Knowing that the money raised is going to help every one of these awesome people is reason enough for cycling all that way.”

The Big Issue let Stevie know about how he had inspired Jake and they agreed to be reconnected during the lockdown. Stevie said:

“It’s a very pleasant surprise. Of all the people to do a challenge like this, I never thought Jake would be the one to do it. But I’m proud of him. So it’s great that he has pulled something positive out of this lockdown. It’s been refreshing to have someone different to chat to and it’s certainly helped break up the monotony of the lockdown.”

You can still donate to Jake’s fundraising page here

Every copy counts this Christmas

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.

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