14-year-old begins 500 mile charity cycle to London

Grace Stewart-Piercy and dad Simon set off. Picture: Julie Bull
Grace Stewart-Piercy and dad Simon set off. Picture: Julie Bull
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A 14-YEAR-OLD girl is cycling more than 500 miles from the Capital to London as part of a fundraising drive for homeless and badly housed people across Scotland.

Grace Stewart-Piercy will cycle continuously for seven days, covering the distance from Shelter Scotland’s headquarters in Charlotte Square to the charity’s UK base in London.

She will travel via Dunbar and Berwick upon Tweed, and was due to spend her first night in Durham before continuing south.

Grace, who set off from Charlotte Square yesterday morning, said the challenge would involve the “longest and hardest” cycle ride she had ever attempted.

She said: “I’m excited to hit the road, have fun and hopefully raise money for a very worthy cause.

“I can’t imagine how frightening it must be to lose your home and all of your belongings. I feel very fortunate to have a roof over my head and not have to worry about sleeping in a damp or cold house.

“For those who aren’t as lucky, it’s so important that organisations like Shelter Scotland are on hand to help. The one thing that will get me through this challenge is the thought of raising money for such a good cause.”

The teenager, from Lanchester in County Durham, is no stranger to raising money for the charity.

When she was just nine, she cycled coast to coast to raise £250, and the following year raised £1100.

So far, her donations to Shelter Scotland have helped provide assistance to more than 100 families and individuals through the charity’s free national helpline.

And this year she hopes to raise more than £5000 – enough to help transfer 20 families from a condemned property into a safe and secure home.

The money may also be used to support the provision of ten after-school clubs for one month each, helping homeless and badly housed children to build their self-esteem.

Simon, Grace’s father, who is accompanying his daughter, said he was “proud” of what she had taken on but added: “I’m quite nervous as her challenges are getting tougher year after year and sadly I’m not getting any younger.

“Grace has raised a lot of money for a very worthy cause when it would have been just as acceptable for her – as a teenager studying for exams – to put the brakes on and focus on herself.

“We can’t wait to get going. Every mile will be one closer to the finishing line, but more importantly we’ll be closer to handing over a cheque to help Shelter Scotland give advice and support to those who need it.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “I am in awe of Grace’s determination and generosity and humbled that year after year she chooses to raise money for Shelter Scotland.

“Donations like this go a long way and help us in our work to meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis for good. We wish Grace and her dad the best of luck as they embark on their adventure.

“We look forward to cheering them on throughout their journey and as they cross the finishing line.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com