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Matt Baker Returns for The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge 2021 with its first ever one-off special for BBC Children in Need

Introducing Team Rickshaw and their inspirational stories

The Rickshaw Challenge for BBC Children in Need is back for 2021, with a difference. This year, to keep everyone COVID safe, instead of the riders coming to the rickshaw, for the first time the rickshaw is going to them. The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge will see Matt Baker and team take on a relay-style ride in five chapters, with each rider taking a leg each, travelling through their hometowns and visiting places which hold a particular significance for them along the way.

As the challenge enters its 11th year, Matt will be there to pass the “rickshaw baton” between these five inspirational young people. This one-off special, will not only share the team’s remarkable stories but also celebrate the history of this much-loved BBC Children in Need staple, while at the same time raising life-changing money for the charity, as part of its 2021 Appeal.

Over the course of ten years, The Rickshaw Challenge has so far raised more than £41million for the charity. Since 2011, we have seen Matt Baker and young people tackle routes located across the UK including Edinburgh to Cambridge and Llandudno to Reading. This year, the team plan to ride just over 142 miles between them, travelling through Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Ulverston and then taking a nostalgic turn, finishing this year’s Rickshaw Challenge in Edinburgh, where it all started back in 2011.

The five-chapter relay challenge will take place between Monday 1st and Friday 5th November and you can follow the 2021 team’s journey at Members of the public are welcome to show their support whilst Matt Baker and team are on-the-road, but are encouraged to do so in line with Covid-19 guidelines in order to keep everyone involved safe. The public are kindly asked to keep at least 2 metres distance from our team at all times.

Speaking of this year’s Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge, Matt Baker says: “I can’t wait to join Harrison, Millie, Liv, Rainbow and Thomas for the 11th Rickshaw Challenge and together, raise money for BBC Children in Need. The first-ever Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge special programme will provide a behind the scenes look at how we get the Rickshaw on the road and the trials and tribulations over an incredible week with some inspirational young people. It’s been a big part of my life over the last 10 years and I’m over the moon we’ve managed to find a way of it happening again and show viewers how their donations help change young lives.”

BBC Children in Need welcome any keen cyclists to go the distance and ‘Pedal for Pudsey’ to join the 2021 fundraising mission. Whether cycling round town or taking part virtually, members of the public can get involved in their own sponsored cycles – more information on how to set up a sponsorship page and to download a free ‘Pedal for Pudsey’ kit at

The upcoming One-Off Special, The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge for BBC Children in Need will be broadcast on BBC One, 10th November at 19:30.

This year’s team is made up of five young people from across the UK who have all been supported by BBC Children in Need funded projects:

2021 Team and Routes

1st November: Somerset, Bristol

Thomas, 16 from Somerset: In September 2018, Tom’s world was turned upside down. Tom’s Mum, Ceri and Dad, Rod, both NHS workers, travelled into work together that morning and were involved in a devastating car accident. The car accident resulted in Dad, Rod tragically losing his life and left Mum, Ceri critically injured and told she may never walk again. To everyone’s relief, Ceri recovered and has since ran 10K to raise money for South West Ambulance Service. This catastrophic event completely changed Tom’s life, as he started to process a mixture of emotions, resulting in receiving support from BBC Children in Need funded project, The Space. The Space has delivered weekly 1:1 counselling sessions to Tom since 2018, who have continued to support and guide throughout lockdown.

Thomas said: “School went very easy on me for a long time and that wasn’t what I wanted, I didn’t want special treatment. I was able to talk to The Space who gave me the support I needed – I can’t thank them enough for being there for me at such a hard and devastating time in mine and my family’s life. I’m looking forward to channelling my energy into executing The Rickshaw Challenge with Matt and the team.”

2nd November: Media City, Manchester – Merseyside, Liverpool 

Rainbow, 18 from Liverpool: Rainbow was born with anavidea mystagnus, a condition which means his eyes couldn’t focus and he had glaucoma. At the age of seven Rainbow started learning braille as his sight deteriorated. He became blind in his left eye at the age of eight due to a retinal condition and at the age of nine, his right eye rapidly became worse due to issues with the optic nerve. Rainbow is described by many as a great force of positivity, and has never let his difficulties stop him following his passion of playing football. A keen sportsman, Rainbow is on the British blind football team and is also a huge advocate for blind young people and actively fights to ensure their voices are heard. He is an ambassador for BBC Children in Need funded project, British Blind Sport which encourages young visually impaired pupils to get involved in sport.

Rainbow says: “I have always been pretty sporty, loving rock climbing and running amongst many others. So, when my PE teacher suggested that I went along to try football with Merseyside Blind FC, I knew I had to go! Football has opened so many doors for me and I am hopeful of one day representing Great Britain at the Paralympics. I also want to develop my skills as a football coach as I take great joy from helping others and hope that I can inspire more people to try blind football. I have overcome so many challenges in my life, so I can’t wait to take on a new challenge, The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge 2021.”

3rd November: Southport 

Liv, 17 from Southport: A courageous young carer, Olivia has dedicated so much of her young life to support her sister Jess, who has a life-limiting condition. Jess was sadly born with a unique chromosome abnormality and Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, an overgrowth disorder characterised by increased risk of tumours and large congenital features, a severely life-limiting condition. Despite her on-going health problems, Jess continues to be a happy girl with a strong character and lots of determination with the support from her loving family. In addition to caring for a child with complex needs, the rest of the family have found lockdown difficult and are so grateful for the support they continue to receive from  BBC Children in Need funded project, Claire House Hospice. This vital project is funded to deliver a Play Therapist and Team Leader role for a sibling support group to give children and young people such as Olivia the support they need to cope with the emotional difficulties of having a sibling with a life-limiting condition. Olivia is a promising fashion student and is hoping to attend her dream university to study Fashion Design, she is also an active fundraiser having raised £20,000 to get her cousin Noah, a new wheelchair.

Liv says: “I am beyond grateful for the incredible support I’ve received from Claire House Hospice over the last five years, they have helped me manage my emotions whilst going through such a difficult time. As a family, we are unable to go on holiday so Claire House Hospice has provided us with fun days out such as trips to the beach, a farm and also the opportunity to meet other children and families who are in the same position. I am really excited to be part of this year’s Rickshaw Challenge, I can’t wait to get involved and help fundraise for BBC Children in Need.”

4th November: Ulverston, Cumbria 

Harrison, 20 from Cumbria: Following a serious bowel infection at one week old and weighing only 1lb 8oz, Harrison’s chance of survival was extremely low. He endured two brain bleeds and more life threatening infections such as septicaemia twice, a heart duct operation, tracheostomy and hernia operations before he was even eight months old. Harrison was signed off at home on a ventilator to have his suspected last Christmas at home with his family and siblings, as his heart was failing and his lungs damaged from long term ventilation. Harrison has made a miraculous recovery and has since endured 20 operations in his young life, he has Cerebral Palsy and Chronic Lung Disease. At 3 years-old Harrison joined BBC Children in Need funded project, Sunbeams. Sunbeams deliver music sessions for young people affected by illness or disability, along with their families in Cumbria, leading to improved communication skills, emotional wellbeing and improved family relationships. Harrison is a natural entertainer and keen musician, he sings and performs locally to elderly care home residents. His family credit Sunbeams for helping Harrison to become the person he is today; his confidence and his character all supported by Sunbeams.

Harrison says: “I love to sing, it makes me so happy and brings so much joy to my life and that is all thanks to Sunbeams. I’m so excited to join team Rickshaw, I already ride a trike and have recently cycled 5 miles which was my goal! Once, my bike was stolen and the local community pulled together to buy me a new one – the support I receive from my family, Sunbeams and my local community is amazing.”

5th November: Edinburgh, Scotland

Millie, 20 from Edinburgh: When Millie was born, she was diagnosed with Alagille Syndrome, a rare liver condition, and within a few months urgently needed a liver transplant. Millie received her transplant in Birmingham, one of three specialist centres in the UK that perform liver transplants for children. Despite Millie having visual and hearing impairments, she is happy and healthy and celebrating 20 years since her liver transplant this year. Millie receives support from BBC Children in Need funded project, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) who offer one-to-one and online support for 11-24 year olds who are experiencing liver disease. The support aims to reduce young people’s social isolation, increase resilience and independence. CLDF also provide family support, information and funding for research. They also provide a voice for all those affected by childhood liver disease. Millie has also competed in 12 British Transplant Games, and 2 World Transplant Games. Even though they were cancelled last and this year due to COVID-19, Millie was undefeated, and competed in a virtual transplant games and did long jump in her garden, table tennis, ran and cycled. Transplant Sport UK, who host the Transplant Games are also supported by BBC Children in Need through funding the Kids and Teens Co-ordinator.

Millie says: “Children’s Liver Disease Foundation has been fundamental in supporting me for many years – the peer support is what I appreciate the most! I have instilled a positive attitude all these years through my difficulties and I honestly don’t know life any other way – I’m so grateful for the support. I’m incredibly excited to be part of The Rickshaw Challenge, I love to cycle and I cycle to work so I’m ready for the challenge with Matt Baker and the team!”

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive at BBC Children in Need added: “It is always such a privilege to see the positive impact each Rickshaw Challenge has on the young participants, being part of a team and challenging themselves to help raise awareness and money for a cause that they hold so close to their hearts. This year’s new one off special will allow the courageous young people to tell their inspiring life stories in detail and show viewers how their donations make a difference to real young lives across the UK. I’ll be championing Matt and the 2021 team every step of the way!”

The team will be riding the rickshaw which was designed and built by McLaren Group engineers in 2018. This rickshaw was custom built to be accessible to a wider range of riders.

For real time updates on how the team are getting on, please follow BBC CiN on social media to see behind the scenes and to show support to the team.


For more information or interview requests please contact: [email protected]

Notes to Editors


The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge 2021 official campaign images are available at the following link:

Please note that any group images have been created using photo editing technology to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.

The Great Rickshaw Relay Challenge 2021

The team will be riding the rickshaw which was designed and built by McLaren Group engineers in 2018. This rickshaw was custom built to be accessible to a wider range of riders.

Members of the public who would like to follow the challenge can follow BBC Children in Need on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Members of the public can get involved in their own fundraising in line with the 2021 Appeal with more information available at


Throughout the challenge Matt Baker, the young people and the entire crew will be following strict industry COVID guidelines in order to keep everyone involved in the production safe. Ahead of the challenge, a set of robust safety measures have been put in place to minimise the risk of infection to all of those involved. On site the team will be following industry COVID guidelines with strict social distancing measures enforced at all times.

BBC Children in Need will monitor the current situation surrounding COVID-19, and may update plans if needed.

About BBC Children in Need

BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential. The charity will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.

BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 2,500 local charities and projects in communities across the UK that are helping children and young people facing a range of disadvantages such as living in poverty, being disabled or ill, or experiencing distress, neglect or trauma.

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