More than 1,000 people in north-west London – from toddlers through to senior citizens – joined the BAPS Annual Challenge on Sunday 28 April 2019.
The charity Challenge organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) brought together more than 3,000 enthusiastic participants from towns and cities across the UK for a fun and healthy way to raise money for various worthy causes and local charities.
The funds will go towards supporting BAPS’s multifarious educational, community and spiritual activities in serving children, youths, families and the elderly.
This year’s event will also support two local charities for their outstanding work in north and west London – Kiran Talking Newspapers, a Willesden-based charity supporting visually impaired Asians through the provision of free talking newspapers, and the Rainbow Trust, a charity that provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness.
The 2019 Challenge will also be supporting BAPS’s national charity partner, the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) – the UK’s leading charity campaigning and working to protect children from neglect, harm and abuse.
Previous national partners for BAPS and BAPS Charities have included Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, the Anthony Nolan Trust, Barnardo’s, Breast Cancer Care, the British Heart Foundation, Carers UK, Diabetes UK, KIDS, and Macmillan Cancer Support.
The event kicked off shortly after 9.00am from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, in the presence of Chris Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness at the NSPCC, Councillor Arshad Mahmood, the Mayor of Brent, Councillor Kareema Marikar, the Mayor of Harrow, and Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Brent Council. Also present was Bob Blackman, Member of Parliament for Harrow East, and several other distinguished guests.
Addressing the gathering, Chris Cloke drew upon the partnership between BAPS and the NSPCC, speaking about the shared values of keeping children safe. He added, “We are pleased to be working with your volunteers on safeguarding and child protection. We are also looking forward to workshops for parents on keeping children safe online – so there are many opportunities on working together and we really value the partnership [with BAPS].”
Bob Blackman MP also addressed the assembly and highlighted the “alternative to the 26 miles of the London Marathon [provided by the BAPS Annual Challenge] so that young and old can participate.”
After the opening ceremony, walkers, joggers and runners moved to the Gibbons Recreation Ground (opposite the Mandir) to complete their 10 kilometres of the Challenge. Young children completed a number of circuits of their own around the perimeter of the Mandir while participating in various entertaining activities en route.
Shreya Patel, aged 9, shared, “I really enjoyed walking with my friends. There were so many children who walked together and we were all very excited to raise money for a charity that makes life better for children.”
Dr Mayank Shah, a leading volunteer for BAPS, said, “The dedication and commitment of young and old in the cool April weather was wonderful to see. We are delighted to be supporting the NSPCC’s vision to not only protect children today, but prevent abuse in the future and transform society for every childhood. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj has inspired us to serve and care for each child to in turn create a better world for everyone.”