By Nisha Kotecha
“As long as I can remember we have ‘bought a smile’ for Smile Train on my Dad’s birthday in place of a present. This year I wanted to do more.” – Laurence Chandler, 12, from Bristol. Laurence decided to take on a cycling challenge to ‘do more’ for Smile Train. At just twelve years old, he has become one of the youngest people to cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End unaccompanied after completing the gruelling 874 mile ride. Laurence devoted his school summer holidays to completing the challenge.
Describing the experience he said, “Each day I cycled between 40 and 60 miles, which meant I was in my mountain bike saddle roughly 6 hours daily. The whole journey took me 20 days in total to complete. Some days it would be raining or windy, which made the cycle really hard. Cycling uphill was also tough!” Supporting Laurence on his incredible journey was his father, Robert, who followed behind him in a van. Hoping to raise £600 Laurence wrote on his JustGiving page, “Reaching my target would change the lives of 4 kids and they would be able to work and make a living. If they kept the disorder, in the LDC (low development) countries they would be turned down with no one to care, they would be unemployed and probably have to turn to street begging or worse. With Smile Train they can go out and live a happy life!”
After completing his challenge Laurence had managed to pass his target. He said, “So far I have raised £2,500. My original target was £600. I’m delighted with how much I’ve managed to raise. “ Smile Train is an international children’s charity that provides training and funding to local doctors in over 85 developing countries, enabling them to provide cleft lip and palate repair surgery and related treatment in their communities. Find out more about the work Smile Train do by visiting their website. Read more about Laurence’s cycling challenge by visiting his blog.