Rickshaw rides at Bedford Park this weekend to raise money for Children in Need

Howard Darbon with his purpose-built rickshaw during the summer months

The Great Bedford Rickshaw Challenge returns to Bedford Park on Saturday, all in aid of the BBC Children in Need charity.

Organiser, Howard Darbon, along with some willing volunteers, will be offering passengers a unique circuit of the park in the bespoke rickshaw he imported from Bangladesh.

Howard undertook his first Rickshaw Challenge in 2018, after being inspired by the BBC’s Matt Baker, who has cycled the Children in Need rickshaw up and down the country each year since 2011, raising money for children’s causes.

“My wife, Hazel, and I visited Bangladesh in 2014 and experienced rides on a genuine person-powered rickshaw,” said Howard.

“We were so impressed and inspired by the BBC’s Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge we decided to have a rickshaw imported.

“We needed to have a larger bicycle fitted as most of the rickshaws in Bangladesh were pedalled by smaller men and it would be nearly impossible for a person over 6′ to ride it properly, and so we only ordered the rear portion.

“This duly arrived, we found a second-hand bicycle at the local tip and had it welded onto the actual rickshaw. A few adjustments and we were ready for action.”

Rickshaw volunteer, Alan Walker, and passenger, Paula, at the 2018 charity event

In 2018, their first Children in Need event raised around £3,000. They returned in 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic, challenged themselves to complete 100 laps of the park, rather than picking up passengers.

“We could not take passengers because of social distancing rules, but it was good exercise and we decided to gather together a few friends to undertake the challenge over the weekend,” said Howard.

Despite very inclement weather, the team managed to raise close to £1,500 – a total they’re hoping to exceed this weekend.

“This year we are reverting to doing circuits of the park with passengers,” Howard told the Bedford Independent.

“We’ll be will be based at the Pavilion in the Park between 10am and 3pm, and anyone interested can come there to book a ride and make a donation.”

If you can’t get to Bedford Park on Saturday, you can still donate to Howard’s rickshaw fundraiser by visiting his JustGiving page.

“This year, in particular, is so important for so many good reasons,” said Howard.

“There are many young people who have suffered during the pandemic and it is hoped that the public’s support of the Great Bedford Rickshaw Challenge will raise money to change young lives.”

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