The pandemic has been catastrophic for many and in recognising this a small maintained special school in Caterham wanted to give something back to their community.
Sunnydown School educates young autistic men from 11 to 16 years and offers a GCSE curriculum. The academic curriculum is supported with exciting practical opportunities such as landscape design, DIY projects, Life Skills, broadcasting on our local radio station Ridge Radio, and cultural cooking experiences. Another is a cycle maintenance scheme where all boys have access to a qualified cycle mechanic and mentor, maintaining and repairing bikes in their very own cycle mechanic workshop. It was through this scheme that the Caterham Cycle Challenge – Couch to 660km – was initiated.
This challenge involves the students of Sunnydown attempting to cycle 660km around Kenley Aerodrome to try and raise funds for those people living within the community who are potentially less fortunate than others.
Paul Jensen, Headteacher, set the target of £17000, and at the time of going to press an incredible £13100 had already been raised. The Caterham Cycle Challenge was inspired by The Gibb Challenge (https://thegibbchallenge.com.au/) in Australia; Mr Jensen had planned to take a group of students to Australia to try out the challenge there, but Covid prevented the trip this year.
In addition to individual sponsorship, to raise the required target students have invited businesses within the community to sponsor the Caterham Cycle Challenge.
Wednesday 19 May saw the major sponsors including Waitrose Caterham, Eduthing Ltd, Caterham Roundtable and Clarks Shoes invited to a 'Thank You' breakfast cooked on the open fire pit in the newly landscaped sensory garden area. At the breakfast, Josh Quigley, an international cyclist and world record holder who has visited Sunnydown and stays in regular contact, dialled in from Scotland and spoke about the recovery from his knee injury sustained during his most recent world record attempt and offered encouragement to the students. Simon Rimmer, the organiser of the Gibb Challenge, also made an online appearance from the remote Home Valley Station in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
One of the local business sponsors, Mr Glen O'Dwyer of Computer Solutions, Caterham, shared his thoughts. 'To witness a small special school galvanise community spirit (locally but also internationally) at this time of Covid recovery is inspirational. I implore other businesses and members of the public to support the event by donating and sponsoring'.
Families from the local primary schools listed below are benefiting directly from this Cycle Challenge, so if you are associated with any of them, please do try to support your school community.
Audley Primary School
Hillcroft Primary School
Marden Lodge Primary School
St Francis RC Primary School
St John's CofE Primary School
Whyteleafe Primary School
The students of Sunnydown will continue to raise money until the £17000 target is reached and are calling on our support to achieve this goal. You can contribute to the school's fundraising effort by dropping coins into the collection tins on the counter of many local businesses or making donations directly to the event using the Just Giving link. Cash can be donated directly to the school office or by visiting: