HE’S set to cycle the same route as the professional athletes, ready to brave scorching hot temperatures and batter through all 21 stages of this year’s Tour de France.
But what may seem like a gruelling challenge to others doesn’t faze Piers Wates, as he will be pedalling for a cause close to his heart.
Piers, a 21-year-old geography student at Edinburgh University, is preparing to take part in this year’s Tour de Force, a charity version of the main event, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust, set up in honour of his second cousin, who was murdered in 1996.
William, 19, who was just about to begin university, was travelling in Honduras when he was targeted by robbers and shot twice.
After his death, his family set up the trust in his name, which aims to help the most disadvantaged young people stay away from a life of crime.
The Tour de Force sees a group of amateur cyclists complete the entire Tour de France route a week ahead of the professionals, beginning in Brittany and finishing in Paris.
But what makes this event extra special for Piers is that a sum of the money he raises will be donated to the Pilton Youth Community Project (PYCP).
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” Piers said. “This is the second time I’ve participated in the Tour de Force so I know what’s involved. In 2014, I was the youngest person to have ever participated.”
The memorial trust recently announced it will be awarding PYCP a grant of £22,000 over three years. The local group provides a service for children aged five to 18 in Pilton – one of the city’s most deprived areas – who may be at risk of turning to a life of crime.
Piers, who lives in the city centre, recently visited the project to see how the money the trust has previously donated is used.
Lesley Ross, project manager at PYCP, said: “Thanks very much to the William Wates Memorial Trust for the funding and visiting our project.
“It gave Piers a real insight into the work we do here. The trust want us to keep them updated and so we will give them loads of information about how the money is being spent.”