School Parents Gear Up & Cycle to Paris in Fundraising Challenge

A group of Trinity and Gillotts School parents set off on Friday morning to cycle non-stop to Paris to raise money for the schools and The Chiltern Centre.

This was the second time Trinity School parent Tom Potter had organised this fundraising challenge. In 2017, Tom and the cyclists raised £40K for the Chiltern Centre and funded a new ‘Discovery Hub’ science and technology classroom facility at Trinity School.

This year, 24 riders rode the 325km to Paris with two support vans, crossing the channel from Newhaven on Friday and arriving in the small hours of Saturday morning in Dieppe.  From there they rode 180km through countryside to Paris.

The ride received fantastic support with generous donations from local businesses including Gabriel Machin butchers (who also sponsored the 2017 ride), Jarvis Lifetime Pension, the Henley Coaching Partnership, Amber Galleries, Henley Cycles, The Hidden Garden, Henley Self Storage, Henley Practice, Luscombes restaurant and local start up Brix.

The riders departed from the Trinity School playground after feasting on Gails donated pastries, being waved and cheered off by the children and Henley Mayor Councillor Rory Hunt and rode out through the town centre, over Henley bridge on to the Wargrave Road.

John Groat who was doing it for the first time said, “We’ve had a full briefing.  The only thing I’m worried about is the lack of sleep. We’ve got 6 hours on the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe so I might get a bit of sleep then.  I’ve decided to do it to raise money for Friends of Trinity School, Gillotts and the Chiltern Centre.  I’ve got children at both schools.  I’ve got lots of nerves and hoping that the weather stays nice and everyone gets there safely.”

Julian McLean who completed the ride last time said, “It was great last time.  The highlight was getting there and getting the first beer.  It’s a really good social thing to do to meet other Dads at the school.  I am probably a little bit mad to do it again as I haven’t done a lot of cycling recently.”

Tom Grange was riding on his 41st birthday with a Happy Birthday banner sash his wife had given him.  Tom added, “I’m doing what I like doing – what more could you want to do on your birthday and Father’s Day weekend.”

Tom Potter said, “We planned to do it again in 2020 but of course the pandemic started.  Then we thought we would do it later in 2020 of course that didn’t happen.  It’s taken really until now to get a date that most of the people who signed up to do it.  I think we’ve got about 1/3 of riders returning and 2/3 new because we have had a big in take into the school since 2017.  We’ve got some new parents with very young children to broaden the experience of the group.  A lot of people moved to Henley during the pandemic and it’s been really nice for them to get to know people to ride with.  We’re supporting the Chiltern Centre again because I’ve always thought that they do a great job and I think small charities often get overlooked by fundraisers.  When people do sporting events they tend to do raise money for big charities.  The little ones struggle for oxygen.  As we know the state schools are really struggling with funding and lack of government support so it is important that we help deliver the outstanding education that they deliver.  This ride is all about the community and local parents getting to know each other.  We’ve had great support from local businesses who are represented on the jerseys.   Gabriel Machin and Barry are always the first people to sign up and always one of the most generous.”

Trinity Headteacher, Charlotte Whittle said, “It’s really incredible that they are doing it again and we’re absolutely delighted.  These funds are just so essential for the school and we are so grateful for hosting such an memorable event for the whole school community.”

Afterwards Tom said, “The weather was not as kind as it might have been.  We had a brutal headwind the whole way.  When we rolled off the ferry at 4.30am in the morning after a choppy crossing with not much sleep it was really cold and wet.  On the way to Paris we took it in turns to go in the support vans to warm up with a coffee and a croissant. There were no problems with the bikes, only a few punctures which we fixed at the roadside.  On the way my wife messaged me to say that my son said to her that one day he would ride to Paris so that his children would feel proud too. When we got to the Eiffel Tower at 4.30pm, we got absolutely drenched but we were all so happy to be there.    Everyone had a really good time and the send off from Trinity School was really special – we loved all the cheers and high fives.  Most importantly is that the fundraising is really strong and is still coming in.  It looks like we might hit £45K with match funding which is more than last time in 2017 with less riders.”

The group enjoyed their return trip home on Eurostar with all the bikes coming back via Eurotunnel and they were greeted on Sunday afternoon at Henley train station.

If you would like to donate to the cause, please go to 



Leave a Comment

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *