Young dynamo!

TsunamiEarthquakeGreat BritainNepalIndonesia

A twelve-year-old boy cycles 50 miles for our Tsunami appeal. He has a surprising reason for doing it…          

Paul Collins cycled 50 miles in a single day to raise money for Tearfund’s Indonesia Tsunami Appeal. It’s something he feels strongly about, as he has personally survived two earthquakes.          

Back in 2015, Paul was living with his family in Nepal when two major earthquakes struck the country, killing nearly 9,000 people and leaving millions facing hardship.       

‘When the first earthquake struck I was in church,’ says Paul. ‘At first I just thought it was a tremor but as everyone left the building I realised it was much more than that.          

‘During the following weeks and months there were many aftershocks, and just after I had started school again a second earthquake struck. During much of this time we had been sleeping in the garden under a tarpaulin because it was too dangerous to sleep in our house.’

Paul cycling in Bushey Park. Photo Louise Thomas, Tearfund
Paul and parents outside Tearfund offices with bikes. Photo: John Orme, Tearfund
Paul with bike on Brighton beach.
Clockwise: Paul setting off in early mists, ready for take off, Brighton beach.

Spokes-boy for a generation       

When he returned to the UK in the summer of 2015 with his parents Steve and Jude, who both work for Tearfund, Paul didn’t forget his experience in Nepal. He took part in his first sponsored cycle when he was only nine years old – keen to help rebuild the country he had just left. He set off on a 100-mile ride across north Yorkshire, raising more than £4,000 in sponsorship for Tearfund's Nepal Earthquake appeal.      

Paul’s latest cycle was slightly more modest in its ambition, but is still a challenge. He cycled from Tearfund’s offices in Teddington to Brighton. Paul managed the 50-mile ride in just over eight hours.        

Unlike last time, he’s cycling for a nation he has never visited, let alone lived. However he says, the news of the tsunami still had a big impact on him.   

‘When I heard that an earthquake had struck Indonesia, I could understand how people must have been feeling and I wanted to help. It’s like after losing something you love: when you see someone else lose the same thing, you can’t just stand there and watch. So I decided to take on this challenge.’        

Back in the saddle         

Paul says he was persuaded to act again after he learned that the six-metre-high tsunami, triggered by an earthquake, had killed more than 2,000 people. Tearfund is responding to the disaster through a network of Indonesian partners and churches, providing temporary shelters, cooking equipment, blankets, winter clothes, food and hygiene items, as well as repairing water supplies and building latrines and bathing areas.           

Paul, who was accompanied on the ride by his parents, says the ride was challenging but hugely satisfying to do.           

‘When we set off from Teddington we cycled through Bushy Park and saw lots of deer in the mist,’ says Paul. ‘It was cold at first, but as we left the city the sun came out and it gradually warmed up.         

‘The first 25 miles were quite easy and flew by, but the second half of the journey was more challenging, especially as the wind began to pick up. There was one final, very long hill before the great descent into Brighton. I felt relieved and happy when we arrived, and I was looking forward to having fish and chips! We sat on the beach and watched the sun set over the sea.’ 

Praise God for Paul's amazing efforts; and please continue to pray for people recovering from the tsunami and for all those responding.      

Support Paul’s fundraiser here.

Ben Cohen
Ben is Web Editor for Tearfund. This can sometimes feel a bit like being ‘senior hairstylist for Bigfoot’ but he does his best. He writes a bunch of stories for the website, regular emails to supporters and much more besides.