Young cyclist wants to raise cash for homeless – and outrace his dad

The OConnell family: Daniel, Nicky and Jacob (Photograph: B Pollack)
The OConnell family: Daniel, Nicky and Jacob (Photograph: B Pollack)

'I want to beat daddy now I'm bigger,' says six-year-old Jacob, who is taking on a charity cycle challenge for his second year to help the homeless.

Jacob O'Connell took part in the Around the World Challenge at Preston Park velodrome last year, racking up eight laps – but this year he's hoping to increase that record, and beat his dad.

Jacob on his bike (Photograph: B Pollack)

Jacob on his bike (Photograph: B Pollack)

“It was fun last time and I want to beat daddy now I’m bigger and I’ve got a new bike from Cranks," said Jacob. "I want to do 20 laps this time.”

Daniel O'Connell, Jacob's dad , works for the Brighton Housing Trust, and is taking on the cycle challenge with his son to raise funds for the charity's day centre First Base, which helps homeless people in the city.

He said: “Every day First Base staff and volunteers make an inspiring difference to people who are sleeping rough or insecurely housed in the city,. We want to help raise awareness of our range of services which support people to get off the streets. First Base helps them start realising their aspirations through work, learning and leisure and find a place they can call home.

"It doesn’t matter how little you can do. Children can cycle around the oldest cycle track in the country for only £5 and will all receive a medal, have fun and raise vital funds for a great service in Brighton."

The Around the World Challenge, on July 1, encourages fundraisers to collectively cycle the circumference of the Earth (40,075km) in a day, which is 69,215 laps of Preston Park velodrome.

And it's a family affair, with mum Nicky O'Connell taking on the Living Coast Classic Ride of 58 miles, also in aid of the Brighton Housing Trust.

The ride will see Nicky and other fundraisers cycle from Preston Park, east to Newhaven, up to Wivelsfield, through Ditchling, west to Bramber, down to Shoreham, and then back to Preston Park.

Nicky, who teaches in Sussex, said: “Cycling is such a great activity for children and adults. The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become.

"Time spent playing outside is down 50 per cent in one generation and we know there’s a need to get kids active outdoors. This is a great opportunity to do that whilst helping such a good cause.”

Riders can also choose the 30-mile Devils Dyke Loop.

For more information and to register for one of the challenges, visit: www.bht.org.uk