An avid lifeboat supporter from Hampshire has made a tyre-less effort to raise funds for the RNLI £1,100 for the charity by riding more than 27 miles…. on a unicycle!
Duncan Codd, 14, from Liphook, traversed steep climbs and rolled down descents around the lanes of Sussex and Hampshire in August in a bid to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity close to his heart since childhood.
Through sponsorship from family, friends and school pupils, Duncan managed to more than quadruple his original fundraising target of £232 – which is the cost of a waterproof protective jacket for a lifeboat crew member.
Duncan explained how he initially planned to ride his unicycle in an organised bike ride but was forced to go solo after an unfortunate ruling by the organisers: ‘I had a bit of a set back when the organisers of my local 25 mile charity ride told me I couldn’t compete due to being one wheel short of a full bicycle! We tried to convince them to allow me to compete as I have lots of experience but to no avail. Not to be deterred I decided to continue training and upped the distance to a full marathon, 26.2 miles.’
Duncan, a pupil at Bohunt School in Liphook, first became interested in the unicycle at a circus skills club at school. On learning there was much more to the unicycle than circus-style acrobatics, and becoming interested in the discipline of cross country unicycling, the fundraising idea began to form in his mind.
‘I began doing weekly training rides of around 10-15 miles and cycling to and from school,’ said Duncan, ‘then started asking people to sponsor me via a Virgin Money Giving page. I had no idea quite how much it would catch people’s attention. The ride was pretty hard and I had one big fall, just before half distance. However I was pleased to complete the ride in almost exactly four hours and absolutely delighted to get over a thousand pounds for the RNLI.’
Duncan’s support for the RNLI stems from his involvement in a sailing club where he races a Topper dinghy in the sea off Felpham near Bognor Regis. Selsey RNLI lifeboat crew have helped out at the club’s Regatta and have worked with the club’s members to promote sea safety. He said: ‘I remember I went out on the lifeboat and got talking to one of the volunteer crew, and was just inspired by what I learned. From there I did more research and I just became more and more interested in the RNLI.’
Duncan and his mum Liz visited Selsey RNLI Lifeboat Station to hand over the cheque and tour the station. Martin Rudwick, coxswain of the lifeboat, said: ‘It just goes to show, three years ago we gave this young lad a trip on the lifeboat after doing a search and rescue demonstration at his local yacht club – and here he is three years later raising funds for the charity.
‘The amount is great too - £1,080 is not an insignificant amount for someone so young, as it is enough to kit out a lifeboat crew member in the personal protective equipment that keeps them safe at sea. It’s great to see a young man raising funds for the RNLI – Duncan and others like him are the future for us in terms of fundraisers and lifeboat crew members, so hopefully it will encourage other youngsters to come along and support us, raise money, get involved etc.’
• More information about Duncan’s unicycling challenge can be found at his Virgin Money Giving Page
• Watch a short video interview with Duncan Codd on the RNLI News Centre here
Article contributed by Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East).