More than 80 people in Preston – from toddlers through to senior citizens – joined the BAPS Annual Challenge on Sunday 28 2019.
The annual charity Challenge organised by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 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 Preston serving children, youths, families and the elderly.
This year’s event will also support the outstanding work of Headway Preston and Chorley in the local community. Headway provides a wide range of services including rehabilitation programmes, carer support, social re-integration, community outreach and respite care to survivors of brain injury and their families in Preston, Chorley and other areas of Lancashire.
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. Locally, the Challenge has helped Heartbeat North West Cardiac Care, North West Blood Bikes and St Catherine’s Hospice in recent years.
The event kicked off shortly after 9.30am from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Preston, in the presence of Councillor Trevor Michael Hart, The Mayor of Preston, Councillor Peter Moss, The Deputy Leader of Preston City Council, Mr Gulab Singh MBE of Preston, a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire, and Liz Bamber, Project Head of Headway Preston and Chorley, and her team.
The opening ceremony consisted of speeches from the distinguished guests and group photos on the steps of the Mandir. The start of the Challenge was officially signified with the breaking of coconuts by The Mayor of Preston and Tyagprakash Swami.
Addressing the gathering, Councillor Trevor Michael Hart, The Mayor of Preston, said he was “proud to have BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in the local community and everything I see and experience here, the work that takes place here, the community and support, the encouragement and friendship, all of these things know no bounds. I am also honoured to be apart of the good work that takes place here.” He also gave a “big thank you for selecting Headway as the local charity for support. They will benefit, which means so many more people will benefit, and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. It will make a difference.”
After the opening ceremony, walkers, joggers and runners moved along the 10-kilometre route through Preston City Centre, Winckley Square, down to Avenham Park and on the Preston Guild Wheel greenway route along the scenic River Ribble. The route took participants around Preston Marina taking in the sites of the old railway and berthed vessels in the dock. Various refreshment points were set up along the route with lunch at the finish line rounding off a thoroughly fun day out for the whole family.
Vini Patel, 16, shared, “I had lots of fun walking with friends and family and felt proud to help other children who are less fortunate than I am. It was also humbling to know that funds I have raised will go to support Headway who do excellent work in our city.”
One of the lead volunteers for the event, Niral Kanani, added, “It’s always amazing to see everyone from toddlers to the elderly take part in the Annual Challenge with equal enthusiasm. Passing some of best sites in the city on route makes the event even more special and allows the local community to see and engage with participants. As always, we’d like to sincerely thank the  guests and also representatives of Headway Preston & Chorley for joining us. We pray this small gesture of fundraising by the participants goes a long way to help those in need.”
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