Hospitality and catering student, Abby is currently studying her level 1 course at London South East Colleges. She has recently been announced as one of six amazing young people taking part in this year’s BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge.
The seventeen-year-old has volunteered to take part in a gruelling 423-mile rickshaw cycle ride from the French opening of the Channel Tunnel, all the way to MediaCityUK in Salford, Manchester. The money raised will go towards changing children’s lives throughout the UK.
Abby is an inspirational young woman with an incredible story of cancer survival to tell. At the age of just twelve year’s old she was diagnosed with stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma; a tumour-based cancer. This was devastating news for Abby and her family and it was to be the start of a very turbulent few years of hospitalisation, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. A significant period of recovery was to follow which greatly affected her schooling. Five years later and she is back in good health (three years in remission) and kick-starting her life and career with great positivity.
Abby acknowledges the vital role research will play in combatting the disease and is thankful for the care she received by her doctors and nurses during the time she spent fighting the condition. Because of this, she now wants to ‘give something back’ and help to raise funds to beat cancer in all its forms. She has been supported by Teens Unite which is a project funded by BBC Children in Need to run motivational workshops for young people following a cancer diagnosis. The workshops help the young people to make new friends and raise their aspirations for the future. For Abby, it gave her a space to spend time with other youngsters going through similar experiences and helped rebuild her confidence.
Abby says: “I was recently contacted by Teens Unite and asked if I would be willing to take part in the challenge. I agreed immediately.
“Since then, I’ve been filmed by the BBC for a video to be shown during the Children in Need show on Friday 16 November, as well as appearing live on the One Show last week. I was interviewed by Matt Baker and Alex Jones. Although I was a bit nervous, I really enjoyed the experience.
“This is a very big personal challenge for me, I need to train quite hard to ensure I fulfil the physical side of it and the College has provided me with an exercise bike to practice on during my lunch breaks. With regards to having the mental strength, I think I am already fully prepared. I am a fighter and that is what got me through my illness, I never give up.”
Abby sees her course at the College as a great opportunity to gain a valuable vocational qualification and re-take her GCSEs in English and maths. Because of the huge disruption to her school education, she didn’t quite gain the results she hoped for.
She continues: “I’ve only been at College since the start of September and I’m loving it. The way the course is structured means that you learn the skills you will need when you start work. I would love to become a baker or a pastry chef one day and I gain confidence every day.
“I have already achieved a Jack Petchey Outstanding Achiever prize for competing in the sport of boccia. The feeling I got from receiving this accolade has got me wanting to achieve even more. I have a second chance in life and I am going to go for it.”
Abby’s tutor at the College, Sarah Owen Smith is supporting her with the preparations for the challenge. She says: “Abby is an amazing young person and already a big hit with her classmates. We are all encouraging her and will organise a funding page to raise money locally and within the College in the next couple of weeks. I, personally, can’t wait to see her on TV again when she cycles victoriously into Manchester next month. Good luck Abby!”